HARARE, May 21 (Reuters) - Cypriot investor Karo Resources wants to use some of the output from its planned $4.2 billion platinum project in Zimbabwe to make catalytic converters for capping emissions in diesel cars, the mines minister said on Monday.
Cyprus-born Loucas Pouroulis, who heads Karo, signed the deal in March to build a platinum mine and refinery in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt.
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the investment showed the country was “open for business”, although it is unclear where all the funding would come from.
Zimbabwe Mines Minister Winston Chitando told a committee of parliament on Monday that Karo and an unnamed partner planned to channel some of the platinum towards manufacturing diesel catalytic converters locally.
The price of platinum is pinned below $1,000 an ounce, less than half the lofty peaks it scaled a decade ago and little upside is seen given falling sales of diesel cars, which emit pollutants blamed for health problems.
“One of the players within Karo is in the production of catalytic converters,” Chitando said.
“They have requested to have a partnership where some of the platinum which will be coming from the precious metal refinery will actually be feeding into a catalytic converter plant, which will be installed on that site,” said Chitando.
Chitando would not comment when pressed for more details by Reuters.
Zimbabwe is keen to revive its mining sector after years of reticence by foreign investors during Robert Mugabe’s rule.
Little is known about Karo, which targets starting production at the plant in 2020.
Analysts have said the project start date of July this year looked ambitious but Chitando said Karo’s contractors would start work on the mining site in Chegutu, west of Harare, on June 23.
“The speed with which they are moving in terms of coming to establish sight (and) in terms of the mobilisation of equipment, I would like to believe that the timelines which are in the agreement will be met,” said Chitando. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Susan Fenton)