Zimbabwe exported more than US$866 million worth of nickel mattes, comprising platinum group metals (PGMs), in the eight months to August 2021 period.
The figure represents 43 percent growth on the value achieved in the same period last year, data released by Zimbabwe Statistics Agency (ZimStat) shows.
Nickel mattes, according to ZimStat, surprisingly topped the traditional heavyweights of export earnings including gold and tobacco exports in 2020.
The export emerged as Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earner after racking in US$985,2 million in 2020, which accounted for 22,4 percent of total shipments.
In the first seven months of 2020, export earnings from the PGMs were US$605,7 million. This year’s PGMs dominant performance comes on the back of firm global metal prices.
Using a monthly average of US$108 million, it means that the country is well-positioned to register over a billion US dollars from PGMs export earnings this year.
The firm PGMs earnings performance raises hope amid Zimbabwe could achieve its ambitious target of growing mining to a US$12 billion industry by 2025 from US$2,7 billion in 2017.
“We hope to achieve the US$12 billion mark with major contributions from the platinum, diamonds, gold, chrome and steel sector, coal and hydrocarbons,” Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said at the Mining Media Awards virtual ceremony recently.
Zimbabwe is home to vast mineral deposits, more than 60 commercially exploitable products, most of which remain largely unexploited.
The mining sector already accounts for way more than three quarters of the country’s cumulative export receipts.
To realise the potential within the mining sector, economists say, there was a need for further investments in exploration and processing equipment to ensure value beneficiation and to also invest in equipment that compliments the “go green” commitments in line with climate change.