Platinum. Picture: REUTERS
Platinum. Picture: REUTERS

Harare — Zimbabwe’s government on Wednesday said it will unveil two new platinum mines by May as part of its plans to increase mining earnings to $12bn annually by 2023.

The two new mines are located in the mineral rich Great Dyke belt that has vast platinum resources that make up the world’s second-largest platinum deposits after SA. 

With its economy in a fix, the country is pinning its hopes on mining to ease a severe shortage of foreign currency that has been at the centre of its economic challenges.

Over the past two weeks, crippling shortages of foreign currency have led to the fall of the local Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) against the US dollar, leading to yet another wave of price increases that have seen the price of bread almost doubling.

This week, the RTGS dollar has been trading at 1:5 with the greenback on the popular black market, although it is officially pegged at 1:3 on the interbank market.

The shortage of foreign currency has made the government desperate to sell off its vast mineral resources.

To show its commitment to attracting investors, Zimbabwe’s government is also scrapping the controversial indigenisation policy that is largely seen as a stumbling block to investment.  The indigenisation law prescribed that  51% of any investment should go to local owners.   

Speaking during a site visit at Karo Resources, a platinum concern owned by SA’s Tharisa Group, Zimbabwe’s mines and mining development minister Winston Chitando said his government was opening up the platinum sector to investors.

“The whole idea is to ensure that all the ore bodies in the Shurugwi and Ngezi geological complex are made operational. That certainly will be achieved in the next few weeks and we will announce the two new platinum players, which I will not mention today,” Chitando said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was guest of honour at the event, said the Karo Resources project had the potential to transform the crippled economy through the creation of jobs.

Mnangagwa also appealed for more investors in the mining industry, assuring them that their investments would be safe.

Platinum is one of the top three foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe’s economy alongside gold and tobacco.  

Karo Resources was allocated claims forfeited from Zimplats, a subsidiary of SA-headquartered metals miner Implats.

Cypus-born Loucas Pouroulis, who is also at the helm of SA-focused chrome and platinum group metals miner Tharisa, is behind the Karo Resources project.

Pan-African multilateral development finance institution Africa Finance Corporation recently committed to inject $2bn into the Karo Resources investment.