By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Karo Resources yesterday said it will kick off activities on its $4,2 billion platinum investment project in Mhondoro-Ngezi in the next few weeks by carrying out geophysics, and flying over the area as part of the resource exploration and quantification programme.
The mining giant yesterday introduced to President Emmerson Mnangagwa their financiers, Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), who said they were ready to inject $2 billion into the platinum mining project that is set to create at least 90 000 jobs for locals. The mining firm’s representatives said the project was well on course and simply following its gestation period that comes with projects of that magnitude.
The high-powered delegation from Karo Resources mining group, led by chairman, Mr Loucas Pouroulis, paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare in the company of the AFC officials, where they revealed the details on the project.
AFC president and chief executive, Mr Samaila Zubairu, told a news conference after the meeting that his organisation stood ready to support the project with an initial capital injection of $2 billion.
Mr Zubairu explained that what happens with such projects was that they could then generate revenue from the initial capital investment to grow, but in the event of further capital being required from outside the project, AFC will still mobilise.
“We are here to introduce AFC to the President of Zimbabwe, to express our support to the Government of Zimbabwe on the industrial plan and infrastructure plan and to commit to them that we are working with Karo Resources to execute this project,” said Mr Zubairu.
“We are committed to supporting the project fully. The project is in phases – the first phase is $2 billion. The way projects work is that you start from a particular point and then you build on as you go.
“Typically, sometimes when you start with maybe $400 million you can get capital and retain it from the business and continue. You start the project, develop some revenue from the project, re-invest it and get all the partners to join you.
Mr Zubairu said they were going to work with Karo Resources to start the project.
“As the project continues to develop, we will continue to re-invest in the project and mobilise additional capital to invest in the project,” he said.
President Mnangagwa, who in March directed the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to see to it that Karo Resources was kept to its timelines, told the same news conference that the project was on course and dismissed media reports to the contrary.
“When I read what you (journalists) wrote, then I got worried,” he said. “Now, I am so clear that I must not go by what you write. I must go by what the people on the ground actually are doing. So, I now know that the project is on course, the media is not on course.”
Karo Resources country manager Dr Josephat Zimba said his company’s wish was to put together a world class project that will not have negative impact on future generations and this entails following Environmental Management Agency (EMA) regulations to the letter.
He said the firm would in the next few weeks start geophysics that will see them flying over the area as part of the resource exploration and quantification programme.
“What we came to do today is to appraise the President of the Republic of our country on the progress of the project,” said Dr Zimba. “Our group again reaffirmed its commitment to executing this world class project here in Zimbabwe and we are seized with doing the EMA approvals and I must highlight that EMA approvals are a regulatory requirement.
“In the next weeks ahead, you will start to see, we will be doing geophysics, we will be flying over the area as part of the resource exploration programme and quantification programme.”
In its first phase, the deal is envisaged to see the production of 3,6 million tonnes of ore and 350 000 ounces of platinum group of metals in 2020, which will improve to 14,4 million tonnes of ore and 1,4 million ounces of platinum group of metals in 2023.
A base metal refinery and precious metal refinery will also be constructed as part of the deal that will see 15 000 people being employed directly and a further 75 000 indirectly.