US$4,2bn mine to put Tharisa in global top 10 Karo’s US$4,2 billion platinum mine project is targeting first ore to the mill by the second half of 2024 (File Picture).

Nelson Gahadza-Senior Business Reporter

South Africa’s Tharisa Capital says its Karo Mining platinum project in Zimbabwe will place the group, which is targeting to become a multi-mine and multi-jurisdiction company, among the top 10 platinum producers globally.

The Karo project is a US$4,2 billion platinum mine development project targeting the first ore to the mill by the second half of 2024, with significant progress already made in this regard.

Commencement of works at the Karo mine site began in December last year following the official commissioning by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.

Zimbabwe currently has three producing platinum mines namely Implats owned Zimplats, Sibanye-Stillwaters and Implats Mimosa and Anglo American’s Unki Mine. Several other platinum group metal (PGM) projects are presently under development.

The multi-billion platinum mine investment was signed between the company and the Government of Zimbabwe in 2018 and the mine will become the fourth platinum producer in the country.

“We are uniquely positioned to weather the elements given the make-up of our operation, as a mechanized, open pit operation requiring low power and utilizing a highly skilled workforce.

“This formula will ensure we remain competitive and a relevant player for decades to come,” Mr Phoevos Pouroulis, the group’s chief executive officer said commenting on the half-year financials for the period ended March 31, 2023.

He said with the commencement of construction officially recognised on 7 December 2022, this project will not only double the PGM output of Tharisa but places it well on track with its stated strategy of becoming a multi-mine multi-jurisdiction resources company.

“With the challenges of the traditional South African PGM industry all too evident, South Africa hosts some 80 percent of the world’s PGM resources Zimbabwe as the host of the second largest PGM inventory is attracting greater attention with all three major producers operating successfully and profitably in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Pouroulis.

The Mining Lease area for the Karo Platinum Project covers an area of 23 903 ha approximately 239 km² and is located within the Great Dyke in the Mashonaland West District of Zimbabwe, approximately 80 km southwest of Harare and 35 km southeast of Chegutu.

Mr Pouroulis said with earth moving and earthworks proceeding to plan, major civil contracts were also awarded in the period and power transmission contracts concluded. Long lead items are being procured according to the construction schedule.

“Significantly Karo, staffed with some 150 employees, will commence with a trial mining pit in the third quarter to further understand the drilling, blasting, grade control and processing.

“Construction remains on track for the first ore in the mill in July 2024,” he said.

Karo controls an indirect 85 percent of the shareholding of Karo Platinum with the Republic of Zimbabwe holding the remaining 15 percent on a free funded carry basis.

Karo concluded a bond listing on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) raising an amount of US$32 million includes US$10 million subscribed to by Arxo Finance Limited, a subsidiary of Tharisa) with a tenor of three years at a semi-annual coupon of 9,5 percent, on 16 December 2022.

The bond was the first of its kind to be listed on the VFEX. Subsequent to the listing, the bond was granted prescribed asset status by IPEC, and a ‘tap’ issue raised a further US$5,0 million.

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