Karo invests US$8m into rebuilding Ngezi mine dam

Karo Platinum Holdings says it is reconstructing a US$8 million dam that will supply water to the processing plant of its mine in Ngezi, Mhondoro, for the lifetime of the mine.

The company’s platinum project is an open-pit platinum group metals (PGM) asset under development at a projected cost of US$391 million for the first phase.

Karo has pledged to continue investing heavily towards developing its PGMs asset in the country, despite falling global metal prices, including for platinum.

Mine development is already underway with various concrete structures for the processing plants under construction, following the completion of a pilot mining project that has seen a stockpile of 68 000 metric tonnes of ore.

Karo Platinum head of construction Gawie Van Der Westhuizen said during a tour of the mine recently that the company had also as part of its plans a much bigger dam project in the US$8 million reservoir under construction.

“This is an old dam, which we are revamping to basically create a dam basin of about 350,000 cubic metres for the sole use of water supply to the mine process plant.

“It will run through a water treatment plant that we are constructing on the southern side of the dam, which will feed this plant for the life of the mine,” he said.

As part of the development, Mr Westhizen said Karo had revamped the entire dam concrete wall, installed new pipes, and deepened the base section to about 9 metres.

“So we have increased the volume of this dam to about 350 000 cubic metres, which is smaller compared to the one that we are planning to build,” he said.

According to country manager Dr Josphat Zimba, the mine’s first phase will require about 30 megawatts of power, which the mine will get from the grid.

He said Karo has also entered into an agreement with ZETDC for the supply of that power, with the possibility to even import power from the region if there is a need to do so.

“But also in parallel, we will be building a 30-megawatt solar plant, which will augment the power to Karo, with the view that any power that is generated and Karo is not utilising would be fed into the (national) grid,” he said.

He noted that US$5 million will be invested in the 31-kilometre power line from Selous to the mine as well as the upgrade of the substation.

“What we are going to do is upgrade the solar substation; we are putting an additional 125 MVA transformer on the solar substation, and then we want the 31-kilometre, 132 kV line to come to the site, and then we are going to step down on using 2×40 MVA transformers here on site,” he said.

Dr Zimba said the company will also seek partnerships with local rural district authorities for housing projects for its workforce, while a few houses for critical personnel will be constructed close to the mine.

He said at full operation, at least 1,000 people will be working for Karo, and with a net effect of 1 in 7, at least 7,000 additional jobs will be created.

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