South African mining firm Tharisa is planning to invest $391m to develop the Karo platinum group metal (PGM) mine in Zimbabwe, as reported by Reuters.

The company currently holds a 70% stake in Karo Mining Holdings, which owns the Karo PGM project on Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke.

Located around 100km south-west of the Harare, the Karo PGM project has an annual production capacity of 194,000oz.

Construction of the mine’s first phase is planned to start in December this year, with completion expected by July 2024.

Tharisa chief executive Phoevos Pouroulis said the Karo open pit mine is expected to deliver the first mineral ore to the mill in the next two years.

He added: “We are fully licenced and permitted and we believe this is a low-risk approach to any mining opportunity…being large-scale, open pit, low cost and adopting a multi-phase development approach.”

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The Karo mine’s annual production plan has been increased from the initial 150,000oz of PGMs to 194,000oz.

Karo Mining managing director Bernard Pryor said the company is also in talks with renewable energy firm Total Eren to develop a 300MW solar plant to power the Karo mine.

Reuters noted that mining operations in Zimbabwe are often impacted by electricity generation deficits.

The Karo mine development is expected to create around 1,000 jobs in its initial stages, as well as a further 1,000 when it starts production.

Commenting on Tharisa’s production report for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022 (FY22) and the full year, Pouroulis said: “We have advanced our position in Karo Platinum, which is on track to become the second world-class asset in our portfolio.

“The next major milestone is ‘ground-breaking’ at the Karo site in December 2022, as this PGM asset moves into the construction phase, with inaugural production planned for within the next 24 months.”