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Cyprus-based firm plans $4bn platinum project

A CYPRUS-BASED firm has expressed interest in setting up a $4 billion platinum mine following government’s repossession of huge mining ground previously held by the country’s top mining company.

A CYPRUS-BASED firm has expressed interest in setting up a $4 billion platinum mine following government’s repossession of huge mining ground previously held by the country’s top mining company.

Report by Bernard Mpofu

According to a letter seen by NewsDay, Karo Resources Limited, through its chairman Loucas Pouroulis last month wrote to Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu seeking permission to mine the white metal on land which was acquired from Zimplats.

The government has since gazetted the acquisition of the ground previously held by Zimplats, giving legal effect to the development.

The acquisition, according to the Mines minister, is aimed at courting new players in the platinum sector amid concerns that some investors were holding onto the mining ground for speculative purposes.

Zimbabwe has the second-largest known platinum reserves after South Africa.

Currently, three major mining companies — Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa — are mining the white metal on the Great Dyke pass. Zimplats, according to Mpofu, was granted a special mining lease in 1994 covering 25 years.

He said geological information indicated that the total ground granted and mineral endowment therein has a lifespan far exceeding the prescribed period.

Karo indicated that it has plans to build a 300MW coal-fired power station, which will supply Karo platinum group metals and coal mining and processing operations, with excess power directed to the national grid.

“We have noted with great interest your announcement of 12 February 2013 regarding the repossession of 27948 hectares of land from Zimplats for allocation to new investors.

Thorough this letter, I would like to re-affirm Karo Resources Ltd’s desire, commitment and technical and financial ability to invest in Zimbabwe’s platinum group metals (PGM) mining sector,” reads the letter dated February 18 in part.

“The development of the project would entail an estimated $4 billion capital investment, with the operations estimated to generate annual profits of $1 billion, with significant concomitant tax and royalty payments to the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

Cyprus-born Pouroulis is the executive chairman of South Africa-based mining company Tharisa which has a large scale chrome and platinum mine in South Africa’s North West province.

“In order to deliver the requisite investor returns for the project to justify the massive capital investment required, it will be necessary for Karo to secure access to large scale, high-quality resource bases for both the PGM and coal businesses. We believe these resources are available in Zimbabwe,” further reads the letter.

The proposed operation, according to Karo Resources, will create 15 000 full-time direct employment jobs, with several thousands more created in support industries.

Karo, the letter further reads, has plans to establish four concentrators for its 12 metric tonnes per annum PGM mining operation.

Who is Loucas Christos Pouroulis?

Full name: Loucas Christos Pouroulis

Position: Executive chairperson of Tharisa

Main activity of company: Prospecting, mining and refining

Date and place of birth: October 16, 1938, Cyprus

Education: BSc degree in mining and metallurgy, National Technical University, Athens, Greece, 1962

First Job: Assistant manager, Kalavassos copper mine, Cyprus, 1962

Size of first pay packet: 60 Cypriot pounds (then R120)

First job with present group: Founder, 1980

Value of assets under your control: No idea

Number of people under your leadership: 2 000

Management Style: Entrepreneurial, innovative and hands-on

Personal Best Achievement: My family

Person who has had the biggest influence on your life: My mother

Person who has had the biggest influence on your career: My family

Person you would most like to meet: Douglas MacArthur

Businessperson who has impressed you most: The businessperson who succeeds against great odds

Philosophy of life: Be humble but do not let anybody walk over you

Biggest ever opportunity: Eland Platinum

Biggest ever disappointment: My parents not being alive to share my success

Hope for the future: That South Africa creates a sufficient number of jobs