Phoevos Pouroulis
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Phoevos Pouroulis

CEO: Tharisa Minerals

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‘While current markets are volatile and unpredictable, we believe in the medium-term outlook for PGMs, underpinned by a supply side-constrained economy’

THARISA fared far better than most of its platinum group metal (PGM) peers last year thanks to its chrome production. But it could have been so much better. That’s because chrome production from the Tharisa mine in South Africa’s North West province was curtailed owing to problems to do with waste removal. It’s a pity because chrome prices surged 41% last year. Tharisa’s cause wasn’t helped by inconsistent PGM feed to its processing plants. As a result, the company has missed its Vision 2020 production targets of 2Mtpa of chrome and 200,000 ounces of PGMs.

Pouroulis responded in December with an adjustment to Tharisa’s mine plan in which it will start the staged underground development of Tharisa from the mine’s west pit. In addition to circumventing the open-pit limitations, related to the nearby community, underground mining will also enable the company to balance its open-pit fleet replacement strategy. In the end, Pouroulis is waiting on a PGM basket price recovery especially as he doesn’t want more delays to the firm’s 190,000 oz a year Karo Platinum project in Zimbabwe.

Tharisa deferred first ore to the mill at the Karo project by 12 months to June 2025, which pushed project returns to 20% from 26% previously. But that return, which reflects a lot of work on bringing down project costs, is still attractive. In many ways, Karo is a dream project: mechanised, open-pit, and with a skilled workforce. The main risks are the undemocratic and rent-seeking government in Zimbabwe and an acute shortage of foreign exchange. However, for foreign investors, this may not be worse than the power, logistics and crime issues that face miners in South Africa.


Phoevos has inside experience of the entrepreneurial side of PGM and chrome mining. He is a member of South Africa’s legendary Pouroulis mining family, headed by Loucas. Apart from Tharisa, the Pouroulises also had a hand in establishing Petra Diamonds and Keaton Energy, and pulled off a remarkable coup in selling the Eland Platinum mine to Xstrata for about $1bn at the top of the platinum market. Phoevos was involved with Keaton Energy and was commercial director of Chromex Mining. He holds a Bachelor of Science and Business Administration from Boston University.

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