Platinum producer Tharisa Plc has acquired a controlling stake in a platinum group metals (PGMs) project in Zimbabwe which is set to double its output.
Tharisa exercised an option to increase its stake in Karo Mining Holdings Limited from 26.8% to 66.3% in an all-share deal valued at $27 million. Tharisa said that the transaction is in line with its growth strategy, including geographic diversification, operating low-cost open pit operations with access to premium metals.
The Karo project, expected to start producing in two years, will produce 150,000 ounces a year of PGMs in concentrate in its first phase, the company said. Karo will design and construct fully integrated facilities to ensure the maximum extraction of value from mining, through the value chain to final Base Metal and Precious Metal refining. The project is based on proven technologies and industry best practices. Prices of PGMs including platinum and palladium have surged since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Western sanctions on Russia squeeze supply of the metals. Russia produces 25-30% of the world’s palladium.
“With the challenges and uncertainty to the supply chain of these vital precious metals, a new short-dated source of primarily platinum and palladium metals is a significant risk mitigant for global users and provides security and certainty of supply,” said Tharisa CEO Phoevos Pouroulis.
The Karo project’s resources are split between platinum (45%), palladium (42%), rhodium (4%) and gold (9%). As part of the mining plan, the company will target mining 2.1Mtpa of run of mine material for the Phase 1 operations, at a grade of 3.0 g/t (5PGE+Au). The mining operations will include development of four sequential open pits, up to a maximum depth of 100m over a total strike length greater than 20km.