BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Karo Platinum, which has mining concessions along the Great Dyke, is still unsure of the viability of its much-touted US$4,2 billion project, with exploration works still ongoing.
Zimbabwe has the second largest platinum deposits in the world after South Africa and hopes to resurrect its economy by attracting mining investments.
The Karo project was launched last year by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, but mine geologist Stony Steenkamp yesterday said after drilling neatly 18km of samples, he could not as yet tell if the concession had enough resources for the envisaged huge platinum project.
“Were expect to finish exploration by end of year and then we can have a resource upon which we can hopefully do a mine design that would lead to an actual development of a mine,” he said.
“I can’t guarantee what is in the ground. That is the purpose of the exploration process, to scientifically determine exactly what mineralisation is in the ground, what it is that can be economically mined. Therefore, I can’t guarantee you because I can’t see what is in the ground.”
Karo Platinum, a unit of London Stock Exchange-listed Tharisa plc, says it has so far invested US$8 million for the first stage of the exploration work, employing up to 200 people and would provide jobs to 25 000 people once the mine is operational.
Steenkamp said the company was positive the mine would be a big project given the historical data, although they needed to complete the exploration for them to be sure.
“From what we know, from the neighbours from both sides of us, from initial information we have got, we are very positive we will become a big mine. In order to gain confidence worth investors providing money for this work, we need to quantify it and that is the process where we are,” she said.
Mnangagwa was yesterday upbeat after assessing the progress at the mine, saying Karo would contribute in excess of $5 billion to the national fiscus by 2020 and has the capacity to be bigger than the largest platinum miners Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa combined.
“When we reach the final development stage, its size will be bigger than what we already have in terms of platinum production in the country, Zimplats here in Ngezi, Unki Shurugwi and Mimosa Zvishavane, all those three put together are smaller than this project,” he said.
“In terms of employment, last time we estimated that this project at the final end, it will be employing around.
15 000, but now, the estimate is around 25 000 people directly employed by this project and at full production, they will be adding to the GDP [gross domestic product] about $5 billion a year. Such are the projects which are called mega projects and very successful.
“Our media were already talking negatively about this project, saying that we had a groundbreaking ceremony, but there is nothing that is happening and President Mnangagwa talks of major projects, there is nothing of that sort, so I think they should apologise.”