Tharisa Holdings, one of the world's largest chrome and platinum producers listed on the London Stock Exchange's main board, says it is seeking national project status ahead of commencing exploration work on its 90 percent owned Salene Chrome property in Zimbabwe.
In May 2018, Tharisa announced its expansion into Zimbabwe's mining industry through the acquisition of a 90 percent stake in Salene Chrome Zimbabwe and the acquisition in June of a 26,8 percent stake of Karo Holdings, who are developing a $4,2 billion platinum complex in the country.
Through these acquisitions, Tharisa became the first UK listed PLC to enter Zimbabwe's mining sector following the departure of former president Mugabe in November last year.
Chrome market participants in South Africa, where Tharisa also has significant investments, welcomed the departure of former president Mugabe late last year, but warned that significant operational challenges remain in the sector, particularly around logistics and infrastructure.
Zimbabwe is the world's second-largest deposit for chrome and platinum group metals in the world and Tharisa believe that the southern African country will become a significant player in the chrome market going forward. In a statement accompanying its third quarter performance update, which showed the company achieved record platinum recoveries and production during the quarter to June 30, 2018, the integrated resources group also said it was seeking approvals for its Zimbabwe project.
"In Zimbabwe good progress is being made on regulatory approvals including National Project Status applications and Environmental Impact Assessment reports and approvals, following which the planned exploration programmes will commence," Tharisa said yesterday.
The company says it is about to embark on a company changing expansion in Zimbabwe where it indicated it would spend $3m exploring its recently acquired chrome property, which is located on the Great Dyke, where Tharisa is majority shareholder through Salene Chrome Zimbabwe.
On June 13, the company announced it would invest $4,5 million in Karo Holdings, which has PGM-bearing properties on Zimbabwe's Great Dyke complex. The investment, which is for a 28,6 percent stake in Karo Holdings, takes Tharisa's committed spend in Zimbabwe to $7,5 million.
The investment in Karo and Salene Chrome, Tharisa said yesterday, represented "acquisition of interests providing low cost entry into highly prospective properties in Zimbabwe".
Tharisa's medium-term aim is to reach 200 000 oz in PGMs and some two million tonnes of chrome concentrate production by 2020.
In the third quarter update, Tharisa said it had achieved record PGM recoveries at 85,6 percent, and continued to exceed targeted recoveries of 80 percent.
PGMs production also reached record production of 39 500 oz, up 3,4 percent on the prior quarter. Further, record chrome recoveries were achieved at 67,8 percent, exceeding targeted recovery of 65 percent.
Total chrome concentrate production hit all time high of 376 300t, representing a 2,6 percent increase quarter on quarter. Record specialty grade chrome concentrate production also came in at 95 200t, 25,3 percent of total chrome concentrate production.