Karo Resources, which has established a huge camp at its platinum mining claims in Mhondoro-Ngezi, is still operating within set timelines, which envisage that production will begin next year, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The company signed a US$4,2 billion deal with Government in March last year — four months after the political transition that gave rise to the President Emmerson Mnangagwa-led administration.
At full production, Karo Platinum — which plans to produce more than 1,4 million ounces annually — is expected to dwarf the combined production of Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki, and employ at least 15 000 people directly.
A further 75 000 workers will benefit indirectly.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) last week that there will soon be a field day at the mining site to apprise stakeholders of the progress recorded thus far.
“Essentially, Karo have been doing what I will term resource-definition work. They (last year) did extensive aeromagnetic surveys of the area,” he said.
“At the moment, they are now quite advanced in terms of resource definition. I visited site about two weeks ago and they have set up a huge camp (on site).
“But the bottom line is Karo is on course to produce from the first pit by the end of 2020, in terms of the original agreement whereby they are four pits which will be opened: one operational by end of 2020, the next by end of 2021, the next by end of 2022 (and the fourth by end of) 2023.
“So that programme is well on course and soon there will be a field day in which stakeholders will be invited to come and see (the progress),” he said.
The significant progress being made by the new entrant in the local mining sector puts paid rumours that Karo would not have the financial wherewithal to undertake the investment.
On November 12 last year, a high-powered delegation from the mining company — which was led by chairperson Mr Loucas Pouroulis and the group’s financer, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) – paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa and gave assurances that the project will proceed as initially scheduled.
AFC, who were represented by their president and chief executive officer Mr Samaila Zubairu, told a news conference after meeting the President that his organisation stands ready to support the project with an initial capital injection of $2 billion. In December last year, the miner conducted extensive aeromagnetic surveys at its claims.