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Karo Platinum project takes shape



KARO Platinum, the Zimbabwean unit of South Africa-headquartered commodities group Tharisa Plc, has embarked on a personnel recruitment drive as the company prepares a ground-breaking ceremony for its US$391 million project by year-end.

Zimbabwe has one the largest known platinum reserves in the world after South Africa and Russia and the authorities see the white metal as one of the key minerals in establishing a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. Official figures show that mining contributes between 40% and 60% of foreign exchange and contributes between 10% and 14% of gross domestic product.

According to an advertisement which appeared in local media, Karo wants to hire several technical experts that will play a key role in setting up a new mine in Zimbabwe.

Phoevos Pouroulis, the Tharisa CE, said plans are now at an advanced stage to set up the mine.

“We have advanced our position in Karo Platinum, which is on track to become the second world-class asset in our portfolio,” said Pouroulis in his fourth-quarter production report.

“The next major milestone is ‘groundbreaking’ at the Karo site in December 2022, as this PGM [platinum group metals] asset moves into the construction phase, with inaugural production planned for within the next 24 months. Tharisa remains firmly committed to its strategy of delivering sustainable growth and value to all its stakeholders despite the current volatility in the global markets.”

Bernard Pryor, the Karo Mining Holdings managing director, told an analyst briefing that the company was in talks with renewable energy firm Total Eren for the development of a 300-megawatt solar plant to supply the mine with power. Zimbabwe has a perennial power deficit that often impacts mining operations.

During the development of the mine, the mine will, according to Pryor, create 1 000 jobs, with a further 1 000 created when the mine is operational.

Karo Platinum was awarded a special grant in the Great Dyke in the Mashonaland West minjng district for an area of 23 902.9 hectares in 2018.

A comprehensive exploration programme was undertaken, while at the beginning of the second exploration programme a comprehensive implementation study was commenced and completed, resulting a favourable outcome, with the study advocating the development of an open pit mining operation with proposed output of some 150 000 ounces of PGMs annually.

The initial exploration programme comprising some 238 diamond core boreholes totalling 32 483 metres took place from November 2018 to April 2019. This programme was followed by a second phase of drilling comprising 77 diamond core holes totalling 7 642 metres.

The second phase of drilling was completed in December 2020. The programmes generated over 22 000 samples that were assayed by an independent laboratory.

The total number of drill holes completed was 315. The Karo Special Economic Zone was declared by the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency in October 2019. The investor and development licences are valid for 10 years and can be renewed. Incentives such as favourable corporate tax rate and exemptions from withholding tax have been gazetted for Special Economic Zones.

In terms of the Mines Act, Karo Platinum was awarded a special grant over an area covering 23 903 hectares on the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe on 8 June 2018 and was valid for five years.

A mining lease application was submitted to the Mining Affairs Board, wherein the tenure of the lease under the legislation is for the life of the mine. The mining lease was issued on 12 March 2021.

Early this year Tharisa acquired a controlling stake in a PGMs project in Zimbabwe which will eventually double its output.

Tharisa exercised an option to increase its stake in Karo Mining Holdings Limited from 26.8% to 66.3% in an all-share deal valued at US$27 million. Tharisa, the platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome co-producer is dual-listed on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges.

The Karo project, according to Tharisa, is expected to start producing PGMs concentrate in the first two years of phase one at 150 000 ounces a year. —STAFF WRITER.

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