HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Karo Resources, which signed a $4.2 billion platinum deal with government last year, revealed this week that its exploration program was going ahead of schedule, as it had drilled 18.5 meters so far in the first phase at a total cost of $8 million. The company projected the drilling of 30,000 meters by year end.
When in full throttle, the firm will become the southern African country’s largest platinum producer ahead of Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki.
Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the Karo project has potential to add $5 billion to the Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creating about 25,000 jobs when the project is running at its optimum in 4 – 5 years’ time.
Consulting Geologist at the site, Stony Steenekamp told the media that the first phase of exploration had been planned according to the budget and that it was still in course. However, the firm anticipated the declaration of the resource by year end.
The remarks were made during a recent tour by President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the mine exploration site, where he got first-hand information on the progress that the project has achieved so far.
“To date we have drilled 115 core barrels and the total length of core we covered in that program is 18.5 meters, so if you put all the cores together that we have drilled and laid them out straight it covers 18 kilometers of drilling,” said Mr Steenekamp.
“Currently, drilling cost is $103.75 per meter, so in total this first phase of exploration will be around $8 million, expended on the exploration, pending the results of phase 1 after we spend all that money we must make an assessment of what we have found and then we can motivate to investor to get more money to do follow up phase to expand to cover the whole area inexploration.”
So far, the Cypriot-owned Karo Resources revealed it had submitted about 2,000 samples to the laboratories in South Africa obtained since the commencement of the exploration in the last week of November last year.
“But I must say that to the north of us obviously we have got the global platinum have drilled to the south of us, we have Zimplats have drilled and we are in between. So we fill confidence that the results should reflect what the others in the north and south of us have also obtained,” the company’s country manager Joe Zimba said.
The results were poised to return in 7 weeks’ time as the firm wanted to increase its samples from the initial 2,000 to 10,000 so that going forward, it would have a definitive result.
Karo will expectedly open its first of four open pit mines in 2020 – 2021, thereafter the others will be rolled out. At its peak it expects to produce about 1.4 million ounces of platinum, more than twice Zimbabwe’s current total output.