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Chrome ore export banned

by Staff reporter
04 Aug 2021 at 06:25hrs | Views
Exports of chrome ore have been banned with immediate effect and exports of chrome concentrates from July next year, as there are now enough smelters in the country to ensure that all exports are of ferrochrome ingots. At the same time Cabinet has agreed to work with private investors to set up gold centres to assist small-scale miners produce more efficiently and will be welcoming a new investor in diamonds, who wants to set up a cutting and polishing centre in Zimbabwe and wants to be allowed to buy stones on the diamond auctions.

The three measures are all designed to boost production the value of the products that are eventually exported. The Government move on chrome, reversing a temporary policy of allowing ore exports, dovetails with the beneficiation strategies outlined in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) which wants mineral exports to be at least partially processed in Zimbabwe before export to add value.

Zimbabwe boasts the world's second-largest chromium reserves after South Africa and the mineral is expected to boost the vision of attaining a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the policy change after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

"A cumulative 22 smelters are now operating and are shared among nine foreign and local companies. Unless chrome mining capacity is expanded, the smelting operations could soon face the challenge of insufficient feedstock in the form of chrome ore. "In light of the need to safeguard the ferrochrome industry in the above regard, Cabinet approved a total ban on exports of raw chrome ore with immediate effect," she said.

"The ban will capacitate current smelters and maximise the value chain to be realised from the country's abundant resources as spelt out in the National Development Strategy 1.

"Cabinet approved the total ban of export of chrome concentrates with effect from July 2022," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

The one-year transition was designed to give producers of concentrates time to make suitable arrangements to move up the line for more value addition. If the 22 smelters cannot cope with expanding production of chrome, then permission can be given for raw chrome exports, but only for a single consignment at a time.

"Exports of any consignment of raw chrome will only be allowed provided that all the smelters are not in a position to take up and utilise that particular consignment,"  she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the second mining initiative being targeted in the achievement of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 involved the establishment of gold centres. These will provide basic equipment such as compressors and jack hammers, as well as working capital and technical services, to facilitate supply of gold ore by small-scale miners.

"The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe shall maintain a presence, directly or through approved buying agencies, at all gold centres so as to buy all the gold produced. The gold centres will also provide technical services to miners who supply the ore."

More than 20 gold centres are to be set up by the middle of next year, Cabinet agreed, and memoranda of understanding would be signed with four identified investors for setting up the centres.

"The investors will own 100 percent equity in the centres while those who operate joint ventures with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will fully fund the operations of the centres in return for a 90 percent equity stake.

"Cabinet therefore approved that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development signs memoranda of understanding with investors intending to locate, establish, fund and run gold centres already provided for in the Mines and Minerals Act."

Gold centres were expected to be established in Makaha, Odzi, Mount Darwin, Shamva, Mazowe and Silobela. Turning to diamonds, Cabinet agreed to facilitate a new investor, Ashelroi Trading and Services, which wants to start cutting and polishing diamonds in Zimbabwe, to participate in the diamond auction system as already stipulated in the diamond value addition chain in the NDS1.

"The new investor will construct an advanced diamond cutting and polishing plant in Zimbabwe and promote skills and technology transfer on cutting and polishing," said Minister Mutsvangwa. The ban on exportation of raw chrome immediately got the endorsement of the legislature.

Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development chair Mr Edmond Mkaratigwa said: "That is a very important step given that chrome has been sold for a song, discouraging local miners. The ban has to be followed by the Government drive for value addition and beneficiation and any other mechanism that can help improve the livelihoods of the miners who spend their time and labour in the trenches.

"We applaud that first step and it has to be followed by other build-up steps towards the empowerment of the citizens. Government has to level the playing ground where necessary, for the common good."

He said beneficiation and value addition of minerals before export was one of the four key pillars of Zimbabwe's goal to create value, employment and accelerated industrial development from its largely unexploited mineral resources.

"Value addition and beneficiation promotes various business opportunities. It promotes empowerment, creation of jobs and improved livelihoods," said Mr Mkaratigwa.

Under Vision 2030, President Mnangagwa's administration has identified the mining sector as playing a key role in the quest to transform the country into an upper middle income society.

Source - chronicle

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