$4,2 billion deal takes shape > Dually listed Tharisa officially enters Zimbabwe >Releases $8 million initial injection for venture to start

Dually listed major miner, Tharisa, announced today that it had acquired a 26,8 percent stake in Karo Holdings from Leto Settlement – an indirect shareholder in the firm – in a related party transaction worth $4,5 million.

Karo Holdings, which recently signed an agreement with Government on March 22 this year, is the parent of various entities – Karo Platinum, Karo Coal Mines, Karo Power Generation and Karo Refining – that have committed to invest in local mining projects worth $4,2 billion.

In essence, Karo Holdings intends to build a mining operation, concentrators and smelters, a power plant, including a platinum group metals (PGM) refinery.

In a statement today, Tharisa, which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and London Stock Exchange (LSE), said it had initially stayed out of Zimbabwe “due to political uncertainty”, and “recent improvements in the political landscape have precipitated a decision by Tharisa”.

The acquisition will naturally give the South African mining company access to the 23 903 hectares that were recently released by Zimplats, the country’s biggest platinum miner.

In a major boost for locals, Government, which has limited the 51-49 percent empowerment threshold to the diamond and platinum sectors, will hold 50 percent in Karo Platinum through a special purpose vehicle, the Zimbabwe Investment Company (ZIC), which will fall under the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

The mining operation will supply its ore to Karo Refining, which will be held 75 percent by Karo Holdings.

In the other subsidiaries – Karo Coal, Karo Coal and Karo Power Generation – Government, through ZIC, will hold 10 percent direct interest, while the remaining 15 percent will be held by both employees and the communities.

While in the initial agreement with Government Karo had undertaken to build a coal-fired power station, it will now be building a 300-MW solar power project that will feed both its operation and the national grid.

Already, Tharisa has since released $8 million from its cash resources for the exploration and sampling in the proposed mining area.

Zimbabwe has the biggest PGM deposits in the world after South Africa.

The $4,2 billion deal was signed on March 22 in Harare by Mr Chitando and Karo chairperson Mr Loucas Pouroulis at a ceremony attended by President Mnangagwa, VP Kembo Mohadi and senior Government officials.

Mr Pouroulis has more than 50 years experience in the mining sector and is renowned for founding Petra Diamonds, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and is currently valued at $560 million.

In 2006, he also founded the $480 million Tharisa – listed in Johannesburg and London – and produced 1,3 million tonnes of chrome concentrate and almost 144 000 ounces of platinum last year.

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