Source: Govt woos mining investors | The Herald May 10, 2019
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
GOVERNMENT urgently needs investors in the mining sector as it targets to steer growth in the sector and help achieve an upper middle income economy by 2030, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Government targets to increase ferro-chrome production to a million tonnes by 2022.
Addressing mining experts and potential investors at the 35th International Chromium Development Association (ICDA) conference here on Wednesday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said Government is working hard to implement an integrated Mineral Development Plan whose goal is to increase production among other deliverables.
The development plan will be guided by specific policies that Government is working on such as the Diamond Development Policy, Iron Ore, Nickel and Chrome Development Policy, Coal and hydrocarbons policy, Gold Development Policy, Lithium Development Policy and Platinum Development Policy.
“The country has a huge potential to increase its ferro-chrome production from about 350 000 tonnes mined last year. More exploration and capital is required to upgrade the reserves and increase underground production.
“While 2018 production of around 350 000 tonnes was a new record for the country, new capacity being commissioned and planned for commissioning within the year could see a 20 percent increase of ferro-chrome production capacity to 418 000 tonnes in 2019.”
Minister Chitando said despite having the world’s second largest chrome ore resource, the country’s ferro-chrome industry is still underdeveloped.
He said Government is working on strategies towards a vibrant industry in line with the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and Vision 2030.
Among the strategies is the use of modern technology in the exploration and smelting, said the minister.
“There is huge potential for the country to increase. We have natural resources and human resource and what we need is the dollar capital. Most of the smelting technology in the country is old and there is need to invest in new technology especially technology that can process fines.
“New technology will also improve smelting efficiencies and thereby improve viability of the industry.
“In the medium term, planned further expansion will see Zimbabwe ferro-chrome capacity increase to around 956 000 tonnes by 2022.
“Chrome ore production will need to increase in line with increasing capacity, therefore there is need for significant investment in developing the mining capacity of the country from exploration through to production.
“We’re engaging so we achieve all this and the process towards the industrial policy is underway as we want the input of the private sector,” highlighted Minister Chitando.
He said Zimbabwe holds about 900 million tonnes which makes 12 percent of global 7,5 billion tonnes and is second to South Africa which makes 72 percent.
According to 2018 figures, Zimbabwe produced an estimated 1,358 million tonnes of ore representing four percent of the world output of 33,7 million tonnes.
Chrome ore output reached an all-time low of 186 000 tonnes in 2015 since 2001 due to decreasing output of ferro-chrome.
However, Minister Chitando said output picked up following the lifting of the ban on the export of chrome ore by Government and rose to about 1,358 million tonnes in 2018.
During the same five-year period to 2023, Government targets to reach at least two million tonnes of stainless steel of which one of the key ingredients is ferro-chrome.
“There is also need for investment into infrastructure networks such as roads, rail and water and other minerals such as nickel, iron ore, coal and other resources to support steel production,” Minister Chitando said.
He said the Mineral Development Plan will earn about US$4 billion in 2019 up from US$3,2 billion last year and likely to reach US$12 billion by 2023.
Government has also repealed the indigenisation policy which compelled investors to a 49 percent shareholding while efforts are being made to implement a “use it or lose it principle” to enforce exploration on idle mining claims.