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Zimbabwe's US$12 billion mining economy on course

by Staff reporter
01 Jun 2023 at 06:41hrs | Views
ZIMBABWE'S mining industry has registered significant strides towards realising the ambitious US$12 billion milestone by the end of this year, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said.

Speaking at the lithium symposium during the mining conference organised by the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe yesterday, Chitando, who was the guest speaker, said Government's comprehensive doing business reforms have increased the appetite for investment into the mining sector leading to the opening up of new projects.

He said there were huge opportunities especially in the lithium mining value chain as the mineral was on high demand around the globe.

"We have a number of significant mining projects in various minerals, which are coming to fruition. The growth we have had in the mining industry I must say, as we are targeting the US$12 billion milestone, which is possible largely because of the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, has enabled mining projects and increased appetite for investing in Zimbabwe thanks to the policies by President Mnangagwa," said Minister Chitando.

In order to sustain the mining industry momentum, he said there was a need for continued dialogue between the industry and the Government.

The minister also challenged mining entities to invest in skills development for the sustenance of the sector. He said the growth of the mining sector will also see the manufacturing sector grow.

"I urge all in the mining sector to fully participate and play a part in the development of skills. The level of skills we have in the country is because certain mining companies have accorded trade apprentices and I would love to urge all your members to please take skills training as a call to ensure that you provide training," said Chitando.

"I urge the industry to have a sustainable skills level because as the industry grows, and that is not matched with skills, you compete for the skills, which are there."

The minister said it was worrying that the Zimbabwe School of Mines, which trains skills at the diploma level is indicating downsizing the intake citing various challenges.

He, however, commended the contribution of small-scale miners who are making a significant input towards the US$12 billion target.

In terms of lithium, discussions at the lithium conference hovered around unlocking value in the sector, which participants said is a sleeping giant that needs awakening.

Minister Chitando said the country had liberalised mining of lithium as long as all regulatory conditions are met.

He was making reference to concerns about the ban of exports of raw lithium by the Government to encourage investment in local processing facilities.

Zimbabwe has the largest reserves of lithium in Africa and the 6th in the world hence Government moved to address smuggling of the sought after mineral, which is costing the country about US$1,8 billion in lost mining earnings.

Minister Chitando said despite the ban on export of lithium ore, anyone can mine lithium as long as the entity has a licence.

He said the Mines and Minerals Act provides for the mining of lithium, processing and storage transportation and exports of value-added lithium wholly owned Zimbabwean entities can be given a waiver to export for two years once they demonstrate commitment to regulation.

Minister Chitando implored mining entities to work closely with each other for the common goal of developing the mining industry.

"The intention of the Government is to move the whole value chain so it is important for us to work together as industry to ensure that industry achieves its goals and also that as Government we achieve our goal for value addition," he said.

"So, it is important that as lithium players we get together. We do have plans, which have been submitted by some of the investors who would want to invest in the value chain and it is important that we work together to have a very clear roadmap of value addition because that is Government policy."

Namibia Chamber of Mines vice president Mr George Botshiwe concurred saying lithium is important not only in Zimbabwe but to the region. He said there are opportunities for regional integration in the lithium space.

"The resources are there and must be mined on our terms and the onus is on us the owners to maximise the benefits. We need to leverage this resource, opportunities are there in the whole value chain so we need to collaborate and work together," he said.

The conference started yesterday and ends tomorrow under the theme: "Mining for economic development: Creating growth enablers for the mining industry."

Source - The Herald