Zimbabwe signs $4.2bn platinum deal to transform mining sector
Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1.4 million ounces annually within three years.
Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and power station to produce electricity for the smelter, and should employ 15,000 people when fully implemented, according to Karo head Loucas Pouroulis.
Keen to revive the mining sector after years of reticence by foreign investors during Robert Mugabe‘s rule, President Mnangagwa said the deal was a signal things had changed since his ascendancy after Mugabe’s ousting in November.
“Zimbabwe is open for business and whoever stands in the way, hurting business in this country, will fall. It is not business as usual anymore, things have to change,” Mnangagwa said at the signing ceremony.
The project was first mooted six years ago but had been held back by government red tape and “other unnamed vested interests, which are corrupt interests,” he said.
Cyprus-born Pouroulis spent his early career with industry giant Anglo American in South Africa, branching out on his own to establish niche operators such as Petra Diamonds, Eland Platinum and Tharisa Minerals, according to his profile on Tharisa’s website.
He did not give the source of funding for the venture.
On Monday, Mnangagwa’s government amended the Mugabe-era Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act, which aimed to increase black Zimbabweans’ ownership of mines by preventing foreign entities holding majority stakes.