HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe has banned the export of raw chrome with immediate effect in a bid to support the domestic ferrochrome industry, minister of information Monica Mutsvangwa said on Tuesday.
The southern African country holds the second-largest known chrome ore reserves after South Africa, which in October last year announced it was imposing a chrome ore export tax to boost local ferrochrome producers.
Mutsvangwa told reporters after a cabinet meeting that Zimbabwe had 22 operating chrome smelters, which could soon face insufficient feedstock if chrome mining capacity did not increase.
“In light of the need to safeguard the needs of the ferrochrome industry, Cabinet approved a total ban of exports of raw chrome ore with immediate effect,” Mutsvangwa said.
“The ban will capacitate current smelters and maximise the value chain to be realised from the country’s abundant resources.”
Zimbabwe produced 300,926 tonnes of chrome ore in the first quarter of this year, compared with 353,669 tonnes during the same period of 2020.
Total export earnings from chrome ore and ferrochrome, a key ingredient in the production of steel, was $231.5 million last year, down from $266 million the previous year.
Among the biggest chrome miners and ferrochrome producers in Zimbabwe is China’s Tsingshan Holding Group, which has announced plans to build a carbon steel plant with capacity of 1.2 million tonnes south of the capital Harare.
The project will be operated by Tsingshan’s unit Zhejiang Dinson Holding Co Ltd, which already has ferrochrome smelters in Zimbabwe with annual capacity at 100,000 tonnes.