Platinum. Picture: THINKSTOCK
Platinum. Picture: THINKSTOCK

Harare — A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2bn deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was "open for business".

Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020. The aim was to reach 1.4-million ounces annually within three years.

Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and power station to produce electricity for the smelter. It should employ 15,000 people when fully implemented, Karo head Loucas Pourolis said.

Keen to revive the mining sector after years of reticence by foreign investors during Robert Mugabe’s rule, Mnangagwa said the deal was a signal things had changed since his ascendency after Mugabe’s ousting in 2017.

"Zimbabwe is open for business and whoever stands in the way, hurting business in this country, will fall. It is not business as usual anymore, things have to change," he said at the signing ceremony.

The project was first mooted six years ago but had been held back by government red tape and "other unnamed vested interests, which are corrupt interests", he said.