(Bloomberg) — Tharisa Plc, the South African miner run by the Pouroulis family, plans to start producing platinum in Zimbabwe within 24 months after acquiring a controlling interest in the Karo mine.
While Zimbabwe has the world’s third-biggest reserves of platinum-group metals, development has been stymied by political instability, economic collapse and previous local-ownership rules. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. also have operations in the country.
Infrastructure works for the first $250 million phase of the open-pit mine will start later this year, Tharisa Chief Executive Officer Phoevos Pouroulis said in an interview. The operation, 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, will produce 150,000 ounces of PGMs in its first phase and have a 20-year life.
“We’ve kick-started the development,” Pouroulis said. “There is potential to expand further.”
Tharisa, which also has interests in chrome, paid $27 million for control of Karo on March 31. The first-phase development will also include a pilot smelter.
“We want to do the whole value chain in Zimbabwe,” the CEO said.
The Pouroulis family set up the South African platinum-mining ventures Lefkochrysos and Eland Platinum. Eland was sold to Xstrata Plc in 2007 for the equivalent of $1.1 billion.