May 16, 2018 / 7:37 AM / in 5 months

South Africa's Tharisa acquires 90 percent stake in Zimbabwean chrome

LONDON, May 16 (Reuters) - South African mining firm Tharisa has bought a 90 percent stake in Salene Chrome Zimbabwe Limited, it said on Wednesday, gaining access to rich chrome deposits and growing its presence in Zimbabwe.

Tharisa previously announced an interest to move into Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke region, which is considered to have chrome and platinum reserves comparable to those it mines in the Bushveld region of South Africa.

In Wednesday’s statement, it did not disclose financial terms, saying only they required “nominal upfront payment”.

“Tharisa considers this to be a highly prospective opportunity to meaningfully expand its chrome mining interests,” it added.

Zimbabwe has attracted intense investor interest and has promised favourable terms for miners as it seeks to reboot its economy after a coup that pushed out veteran leader Robert Mugabe last year.

So far, much of the interest has not been matched with hard cash.

Cyprus-based Karo Resources, owned by the Pouroulis family that leads Tharisa, signed a $4.2 billion outline deal in March to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, although it was not clear when the investment would be made.

Tharisa has bought the new 90 percent chrome stake from the Leto Settlement Trust, also part of the Pouroulis family holdings.

Leto will retain a 10 percent stake in Salene and be entitled to a 3 percent royalty from the sale of the chrome concentrate.

Salene has been awarded three special grants under the Zimbabwe Mines and Minerals Act covering an area of approximately 9,500 hectares (95 square kilometres) on the eastern side of the Great Dyke. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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