Aussie miner in Zim chrome deal

HARARE - Australia-based miner TPL Corporation (TPL) has been granted approval by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (Zia) to acquire a 70 percent stake in African Chrome Fields Limited (ACFL).

ACFL owns high-grade alluvial chrome deposits and a defunct processing plant located along the mineral-rich Great Dyke in Zimbabwe.

TPL intends to restart ACFL’s processing plant and establish its first chrome mine within the first quarter of 2014.

It is currently pursuing a scoping study to build a high-grade ferrochrome smelter.

The project consists of 150 chrome mining concessions that cover both alluvial and lumpy chrome deposits.

Existing plant and equipment is capable of processing 30 000 tonnes per month of feedstock to generate 3 000 tonnes of chrome concentrate per month.

Zimbabwe has the world’s largest chrome reserves, largely unexploited.

However, export of chrome ore is banned under the country’s laws to try and encourage local beneficiation.
Over the past few years, Chinese companies such as Jiangxi Corporation and Sino-steel Corporation have been making inroads into Zimbabwe’s chrome mining industry.

Mining experts assert that TPL’s investment in mining is a thumbs-up to Zimbabwe’s potential to attract investment in the mining sector.

In its 2014 National Budget, government identified the mining sector as the backbone that can spearhead the revival of other sectors among them industry and agriculture.

The landlocked southern African country has the world’s second-largest known platinum reserves and extensive deposits of minerals ranging from coal and iron ore to gold and diamonds.

However, investment has been held back by a law compelling foreign and white-owned companies to sell or cede 51 percent of their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government.

Anglo American, Impala Platinum Holdings Limited, and Rio Tinto Plc are among companies that operate in the country.

Meanwhile, Farvic Consolidated Mines (Farvic), the current owner of the chrome project, will continue to hold a 30 percent equity interest.

Farvic is a Zimbabwean registered company that is compliant with the country’s indigenisation legislation.

TPL is to fund all exploration and development costs, and Farvic has the right to claw back a 21 percent equity interest in ACFL via the purchase of shares from the Australia Stock Exchange-listed miner.

The miner is also required to make its equity investment by June 30 this year and provide quarterly updates to Zia on the development of the existing assets and future ferrochrome smelter.

Interestingly, TPL also holds 800 square kilometres of acreage in Western Australia’s Canning Basin, where Buru Energy and Mitsubishi Corp have had recent oil exploration success.

It is currently capitalised at just below $1 million.

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