Karo Resources, one of the biggest investors in the new dispensation, will soon start mine construction work at one of its envisaged four mining portals in Mashonaland West, The Sunday Mail Business has learnt.
The miner inked a US$4,2 billion investment deal with Government in 2018.
The deal is three-pronged — platinum mining, chrome mining and power generation.
It is believed that the area surrounding the Karo Resource Special Grant has huge chrome mineralisation.
Two solar power generating plants will also be established.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said in an interview that Government expects chrome mining by Karo to start this year, while mine construction work on the platinum project would be the next step, especially after finishing drilling and sample analysis on the first portal.
The envisaged portal is poised to contribute to the targeted milestone of growing exports in the mining sector from the current US$2,7 billion to US$12 billion by 2023.
Platinum mining alone is expected to contribute US$3 billion.
“The platinum project is centred on four portals or shafts.
“The first portal has been fully drilled, analysed and ready to move to the next phase, which is construction,” said Minister Chitando.
“We expect that by the end of the year we will start to see extensive construction work on the ground.
“From there they will then move to the second, then the third and fourth portal. In terms of the US$12 billion (target), the fourth portal is not within the 2023 target; it is earmarked for 2024,” he said.
Minister Chitando said Karo has already identified sites for the construction of two solar power plants instead of one as initially agreed.
Government has signed deals with other mining houses that will see up to 500 megawatts (MW) being fed into the national grid.
He said some of the mining companies like Caledonia Mining Corporation had already made pronouncements to this effect, while the other miners would make their announcements in line with their stock exchange rules.
“They (Karo Resources) have already identified two sites on which they will establish their solar power stations and work is quite advanced on that front,” said Minister Chitando.
The energy investment would likely augment the coal-backed power projects in Hwange which were recently visited by President Mnangagwa last month.
Overall, the projects in Matabeleland North would cumulatively contribute 2 480MW into the national grid, with the first set to start operating next year.
The power projects will alleviate the country’s power deficit and will see Zimbabwe moving from being a net importer into a net exporter of power.
Overall, the region is forecast to have huge energy potential in the medium to long term.
According to a 2017 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), Africa needs energy investments in excess of US$1,5 trillion without which Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to about 89 percent of the world’s energy poor by 2030.