By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
The $4,2 billion platinum investment project in Mhondoro-Ngezi has become one of the fastest projects to be implemented under President Mnangagwa’s administration, with the investor — Karo Resources of Cyprus — having already moved mining equipment on site, only three months after the deal was signed.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said yesterday that President Mnangagwa was expected to do the groundbreaking ceremony for the massive project in the next two weeks.
The project, which is expected to create 15 000 direct jobs and a further 75 000 indirect jobs, is primed to help transform the economy.
Karo Resources in March this year signed the biggest investment deal in Zimbabwe since independence and immediately promised to ensure the project took off.
Minister Chitando confirmed yesterday that the investor had indeed shown seriousness by quickly moving mining equipment on site.
He was speaking on the sidelines of his meeting with the Zimbabwe Miners Federation’s new executive led by Ms Henrietta Rushwaya.
“The investor, Karo Resources, has already started mobilising yellow equipment (which includes graders, dumpers and front-end loaders) and some of it is already on the ground,” he said.
Apart from exploiting platinum resources, the Karo Resources project will also include chrome mining, as well as the establishment of a 300MW thermal power station.
The Karo Resources project was mooted six years ago, but was scuttled by G40 cabalists who were bent on creating bad conditions in the country to enable them to take over from former president Mr Robert Mugabe.
It only came back to life following the coming into office of President Mnangagwa, who immediately announced pro-investment policies.
Speaking during the signing of the investment deal in March, President Mnangagwa said he was happy “that this day has come.”
President Mnangagwa immediately directed Minister Chitando to ensure that timelines for the fulfilment of the deal were kept by both parties.
“This has taken more than six years to reach this day,” he said. “Had we embraced their intention to invest in this country in platinum the year they came and I took them to then President (Mr Mugabe), we should have been on the 6th year of the programme, but because of bureaucracy and other unnamed vested interests which are corrupt, this could not happen.
“The Zimbabwean side was something else I cannot describe, but now I am saying Zimbabwe is now open for business and whoever stands in the way of making business in this country will fall.”
Since President Mnangagwa took over in November last year, investors have been stampeding to secure investment opportunities in the country.
The prevailing peaceful atmosphere ahead of crucial harmonised polls on July 30 and the tweaking of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to allow foreign investors to own 100 percent of their projects, outside of the diamond and platinum sectors where the 51/49 shareholding structure remains, have acted as a magnet for investment.
Policies to determine ownership structures in the diamond and platinum sectors are being worked out.
The resource is large-scale with a potential 96 million ounces platinum per annum.
Karo Holdings is the parent of entities such as Karo Platinum, Karo Coal Mines, Karo Power Generation and Karo Refining.
Government will hold 50 percent in Karo Platinum through a special purpose vehicle called the Zimbabwe Investment Company (ZIC).
ZIC is expected to be under the purview of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
The mining project will supply its ore to Karo Refining, which is set to be held 75 percent by Karo Holdings, while in Karo Coal and Karo Power Generation, Government will have 10 percent direct interest, with employees and communities getting the remaining 15 percent.
Karo chairperson Mr Loucas Pouroulis has over 50 years’ experience in the mining sector.
Mr Pouroulis is well-known for setting up Petra Diamonds which is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and is valued at $560 million.