Senior Business Reporter
The Karo Mining Holdings (KMH), a Zimbabwean platinum group metal (PGMs) miner undertaking a US$4,2 billion project in Mhondoro, has commenced operations with the first ore expected in the processing mill by July 2024.
The Karo project is an upcoming tier PGMs mining operation situated on the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe, which has the world’s second largest known platinum deposits after South Africa, currently has three active PGMs producers namely Zimplats, Mimosa Mining Company and Unki Mine.
Speaking at the official launch of the commencement of works yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, said the Karo project and other developments happening at existing PGM producers would position Zimbabwe as a key global player in the platinum sector.
“The Karo project is the second biggest mining project of the Second Republic. A total US$400 million will be spent on the first phase, which is an open pit mining activity and in the process creating 1 000 jobs, which will grow to more than 7 000 in line with the phased approach,” he said.
Minister Chitando said the country’s platinum sector was currently the fastest-growing industry and was expected to contribute significantly to the aspirations of the Government’s US$12 billion mining industry target by 2023.
Karo’s platinum project is only one of several multi-million and billion-dollar investments that have started or are in the planning phases, which started after the Second Republic was born in 2017, including the giant Manhize steel plant in Chivhu. “Within the next 24 months we are going to witness production from new mines coming on line while expansions by current producers will also come into production,” he said.
Minister Chitando noted that at the inception of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa came up with the open for business mantra, which will culminate in the realisation of Vision 2030, by which Zimbabwe will have grown into upper middle income society.
“One of the key enablers for Vision 2030 has been the open for business mantra, which saw a number of investments including the Karo project coming on board,” the minister said.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Marry Mliswa-Chikoka said as a province, they were excited about the commencement of the mining operations as the project was eagerly awaited. “Looking at our province there are a lot of big mining companies coming through and it is a plus for us as we look at the GDP (gross domestic product) growth for our province and ultimately the country’s economy,” she said.
She said the Karo Mining project had been on the cards following the groundbreaking ceremony presided over by President Mnangagwa in 2018.
Minister Mliswa-Chikoka said the province had a good relationship with Karo Mining Holdings in terms of human resources.
“So when the jobs are coming out they are advertised within the province and that is the relationship that we have built that will benefit the province’s youths,” she said.
Mr Joe Zimba, the KMH managing director said from 2018, the company was conducting exploration works which culminated in the commencement of operations.
“After exploration, the vision came into life and we are anticipating first ore in-mill by July 2024,” he said.
He noted that the first phase, which has a mine life of 17 years, will be producing between 100 000 to 190 000 ounces of PGMs per month.
Tharisa Capital chief executive officer Mr Phoevos Pouroulis said over 43 000 metres were drilled during the exploration phase.
He said the company, while it has secured power from the national grid, will in tandem with the development of the open pit mine construct a 30MW solar power plant.
“This will be enough to meet power requirements for phase one and will be propped up to 300MW,” he said.
He noted that KMH’s US$50 million bond, carrying a Tharisa Corporate Guarantee to be listed on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX) this month, had attracted significant interest with an initial US$25 million set to be raised during the initial phase.