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Chrome miners get export reprieve

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GOVERNMENT has waivered on its ban on the export of chrome concentrates, which was expected to come into effect on Friday as miners invest in capacity to establish smelting facilities, The NewsHawks has established.

BERNARD MPOFU

 Mining is Zimbabwe’s main source of export earnings, accounting for over 50% of total shipments. Zimbabwe is estimated to host about 80% of the world’s resources of metallurgical chromite. The chrome ore occurs in the Great Dyke and the greenstone belts.

 Last December, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the ban, which was scheduled to come into effect on Friday, was meant to promote the processing of the mineral, which is mainly found along the resource-rich Great Dyke.

“Going forward, awarding of chrome mining claims will be dependent upon the setting up of integrated chrome-mining and ferrochrome smelting by mining houses,” Ncube said.

 Isaac Kwesu, Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe chief executive, said miners will use the window to increase capacity in value addition.

“The pending ban on chrome concentrates was announced in 2021, and ferrochrome producers were provided with a window to expand, as well as establish smelting facilities to accommodate their ores and concentrates. It is our understanding that this policy position was informed by the need to fully beneficiate chrome ore produced in Zimbabwe at the various ferrochrome smelting facilities as well as encouraging investment in new smelting facilities,” Kwesu said.

 “As the Chamber of Mines, we support gov ernment policy on the need for mineral beneficiation and value addition. Mineral ores are critical feedstock in the beneficiation of minerals. Where a country is endowed with minerals resources it is prudent for these minerals to be beneficiated to the maximum extent possible. This increases export earnings and contributes to multiple linkage streams as well as generating employment directly and indirectly. To this end we urge government to support the private sector in their endeavour by providing the policy framework that encourages investment in mineral beneficiation and value addition facilities.”

According to government estimates, mining sector production grew 3.4% in 2021, while receipts were up 25% year-on-year to US$5 billion in 2021 (25% of GDP) supported by firm international prices and a raft of measures taken towards turning the sector into a US$12bn industry by 2030. Going into 2022, government has forecast annual growth in production of 8%.

 To attain this target, the national budget has provision of ZWL$3bn for the ministry of Mines for mining exploration, opening of closed mines as well as mineral beneficiation and value addition among other projects.

 Going forward, the granting of chrome mining claims will be dependent upon the setting up of integrated chrome mining and ferrochrome smelting by prospective mining houses.

 Zimbabwe has 40 known mineable resources, dominated by two prominent geological features, namely the Great Dyke and the ancient greenstone belts.

The Great Dyke also has the second-largest deposits of platinum group of metals in the world after the Bushveld Complex in South Africa.

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