File photo: Rick Kimpbell
JOHANNESBURG - Zimbawe has placed platinum concessions belonging to Karo Resources - a company in which JSE-listed Tharisa has a significant shareholding - under a Special Economic Zones (SEZ) designation, which gives the project special economic benefits.

Karo Zimbabwe is setting up a massive platinum group metals mine at the Selous concessions after it was allocated land formerly held by Impala Platinum’s Zimplats unit.

Edwin Kondo, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe SEZ Authority, published the designation of the 50667 hectare concession as an SEZ in the latest government gazette. It said the designation of areas as SEZ was aimed at restoring Zimbabwe’s “capacity to produce goods and services competitively to create economies of scale good enough for the locator of the proposed SEZs to be internationally competitive” as well as ensuring “inclusive growth emanating from the spread of growth nodes and diversified” provincial offerings.

It was also hoped that such designations would “maximise the economic benefits of a given geographical location and its stakeholders and to attract more investment” from international investors through reduced tax rates, free duty on raw material imports as well as exchange control waivers, especially in light of stringent financial controls in Zimbabwe.

Phoevos Pouroulis, the chief executive of Tharisa, which has a 26percent interest in Karo Zimbabwe, said the SEZ status designation as well as the completion of the initial resource classification were key milestones “prior to investing in the various phases that a project of this scale” requires. “Award of the SEZ status to Karo’s licence in Zimbabwe is a critical step in the development of what could become a world-class vertically integrated PGM operation. The Karo mine could transform the Zimbabwean PGM sector, bringing significant economic benefits to all stakeholders and building a long-term sustainable mining industry,” said Pouroulis.

Tharisa has an option to increase its interest in the Zimbabwean PGM project. Karo Zimbabwe recently completed a 238 borehole, 32.4km platinum group metal drilling programme on the property.

The company said it was on track to deliver a resource statement before the end of the current calendar year.

The project would also encompass a power plant and a refinery facility at a time Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum are investing in smelting capacity inside Zimbabwe.

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