Tharisa injects more than US$50,5m in Karo 

Source: Tharisa injects more than US$50,5m in Karo | The Sunday Mail

Tharisa injects more than US$50,5m in Karo

Tanyaradzwa Rusike

More than US$50,5 million has been invested in Karo’s local operations by South African-based Tharisa as the platinum project races to start production within the next 24 months.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)-listed Tharisa has since acquired a controlling stake in the integrated project, which also includes chrome mining, a coal mine, a power plant, smelter and refinery for beneficiation of PGMs (platinum group metals).

Tharisa, which recently increased its shareholding in Karo from 26,8 percent to 66,5 percent, said despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus, the project is well on course.

Tharisa chief executive officer Mr Phoevos Pouroulis told The Sunday Mail that they have since completed the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) that paves way for the project to proceed.

“We expect first production within 24 months. So far, we have finalised the ESIA, contracted engineering consultants for detailed engineering work, started procurement on long-lead items and adjudicated the mining contract,” he said.

Mr Pouroulis said they have so far spent more than US$23 million on the venture while plans are on course to invest another US$310 million. “Over the years, we have invested US$4,4 million in 2018, US$8,8 million in 2019 and US$10,3 million in 2020. We consolidated a majority shareholding through an investment of US$27 million via shares. This is a total of US$50,5 million,” he added.

“The peak funding requirement is US$310 million. Karo Platinum is in advanced discussions with financiers specifically relating to export import finance, including political and commercial guarantees to provide the senior debt funding for Karo Platinum. The necessary equity capital contribution for Karo Platinum will be mainly funded from internal cash flows and capital market facilities of the company. The optimal funding solution is being finalised and further information will be released to the market in due course.”

Mr Pouroulis said Covid-19 has been delaying progress.

“Covid has resulted in some delays in the past. However, we believe we will be able to achieve the 24-month timeline to production. This is due to the company’s commitment to health and safety, our staff’s ability to work cohesively and efficiently, and on-site clinic, isolation and vaccination facilities.

“In 2021, due to Covid, supply chain and logistic issues as well as rising energy prices affected all industries and companies, including Tharisa. Regardless of these challenges, Tharisa has delivered consistent shareholder returns.”

Plans to build a PGM refinery, he said, were still on course, with the company currently building a pilot concentrator.

“We have advanced this project and are looking at various funding structures. Our key focus is the development of the PGM project. In our announcement and our press conference, we spoke about our downstream plans, including a pilot concentrator, which is already being built. We, as Tharisa, and now Tharisa-Karo firmly believe in downstream beneficiation and will endeavour to act on those plans.”