MHONDORO, ZIMBABWE-- Karo Mining Holdings has launched the start of setting up its 4.2 billion US dollars integrated platinum mining project in Zimbabwe with President Emmerson Mnangagwa breaking ground at the site where the company will set operations.

The Cyprus-based firm, in its ambitious project to be implemented over five years under its subsidiary, Karo Zimbabwe Holdings, will not only set up a platinum mining venture but also have three other companies

focusing on base metals refining, power generation and coal mining.

The firm has signed an agreement with the Zimbabwe government to set up the project in March this year.

President Mnangagwa said tUESDAY in this town located some 110 kilometres south of the capital, Harare, that realization of the project, which at full throttle is expected to be bigger than all existing platinum mines in the country, would change the mining landscape of Zimbabwe.

This integrated platinum project is one of the numerous investment commitments we have received from potential international investors who have taken bold decisions to invest in Zimbabwe following my declaration that 'Zimbabwe is open for business', he said.

He said Karo had shown interest to invest in the country over 10 years ago but had failed to do so in the face of obstacles faced during the administration of former president Robert Mugabe. It is happening now because there is a wind of change, he said.

This bears testimony to the sense of urgency on the part of our government departments to speedily facilitate investment and related ventures in our country.

The investment by Karo is expected to create 15,000 direct jobs and more than 75,000 indirect ones. The company, whose operations are located along the mineral-rich Great Dyke, is eyeing to produce at least 1.4 million ounces of platinum group metals (PGM) by the year 2023, set up a 300-megawatt solar power plant and a base metals refinery which will allow it to export finished products directly from Zimbabwe.

Existing platinum mines are currently shipping their ores to South Africa for refining.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the impact of the project on the Zimbabwean economy would be massive. Zimbabwe would become a much more significant producer of platinum group metals, he said.

Karo chairman Loucas Pouroulis the firm was excited to partner with the country to build a sustainable long term business. Zimbabwe has not only been blessed with an extraordinary metal and mineral endowment, it has been blessed with a vibrant, hard-working, skilled and driven population, which despite the challenges of the last 20 or so years, is now facing an exciting future of not only rebuilding this great nation, but turning it into a leading nation to rival any in southern Africa, he said.

Zimbabwe is already the world's third largest producer of platinum, behind South Africa and Russia.