Project delays first ore until June 2025

15th December 2023 By: Simone Liedtke - Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

Project delays first ore until June 2025

POSITIVE RESULTS Construction of the trial pit is showing positive results with the bulk materials mined being used for further metallurgical testwork

The Karo platinum project, in Zimbabwe – a joint venture between the government of Zimbabwe and Karo Mining – is set to mark a significant milestone with the anticipated arrival of the first ore in the mill in June 2025.

This date is a slight delay from the initial target of July 2024, which platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome miner Tharisa Minerals investor relations and communications head Ilja Graulich attributes to a comprehensive review of the commissioning timeline, which was driven by the prevailing PGMs price environment.

Tharisa says construction of the trial pit is showing positive results, despite the price environment, with the bulk materials mined being used for further metallurgical testwork.

Revised workstreams were designed to accelerate the project implementation, should the PGMs market become more favourable, he says, though the pilot mining is continuing as planned to optimise the mining design.

Tharisa is a 70% shareholder in Karo Mining, which, in turn, indirectly owns 85% of the Karo platinum project, with the government of Zimbabwe holding the remaining 15% of the project on a free-carry basis.

There were noteworthy construction developments in the past year, with the first concrete poured in June.

With only one lost-time incident in 2023, Tharisa notes that the project team remains focused on the phased approach to match capital requirements.

The major workstreams, including the concrete pour, are well under way and on track, Graulich confirms, noting that this showcases the commitment to continued development aligned with funding availability.

Key aspects of the project's advancement include the completion of manufacturing for essential long-lead items and the ongoing pilot mining activities aimed at enhancing the mining process design.

“Encouragingly, the trial pit has revealed positive results, supporting the scalability, low-cost and low-risk characteristics of the project,” he adds.

A central component of the Karo platinum project is the construction of a 300 MW solar photovoltaic power plant – of which the first phase, which is on schedule, will comprise an installed capacity of 30 MW being commissioned.

“This strategic initiative is designed to not only meet the project's power needs but also contribute to the broader energy grid,” Graulich states.

Environmental Considerations, Certifications

Environmental and social responsibility are integral to the project's development and, thus far, three environment and social-impact assessments (ESIAs) have been conducted, covering mining activities, processing facilities, tailings ponds and camp facilities, as well as power and water supply.

Graulich says certificates for the mine and plant, as well as the power supply, have been issued. The third ESIA for water supply was submitted in the third quarter of 2023.

In alignment with the latest Equator Principles, Karo Mining has also commissioned a climate transition risk analysis and a human rights assessment.

The Equator Principles – initiated by a group of financial institutions known as the Equator Principles Financial Institutions – are voluntary guidelines adopted by institutions to assess and manage environmental and social risks in project financing, thereby emphasising responsible and sustainable business practices.

These studies, alongside the ESIAs, form the basis of a comprehensive environmental and social management system aimed at mitigating and monitoring the project's impact.

Meanwhile, Karo Mining places a strong emphasis on community engagement, regularly convening meetings to share project information and address community concerns. It is within this framework that a grievance mechanism has been established to facilitate this process, Graulich says.

A resettlement action plan is also being developed to support the resettlement of households in the Karo platinum project's vicinity.

“Karo has engaged with these households, securing agreement on entitlement frameworks, replacement land, and the design of replacement housing and infrastructure. Community development initiatives are also under way, including medical equipment donations, support for schools, and plans for improved water and energy supply,” he concludes.