via Govt to buy chrome – NewsDay Zimbabwe August 17, 2015 by Blessed Mhlanga
VICE-PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says government will soon launch a special purchase vehicle (SPV) to enable it to buy chrome ore directly from miners and smelters at international market prices and sell it to Russia for maximum benefit to the country.
Speaking at the official opening of a South African retail store in Kwekwe last Friday, Mnangagwa said government had realised that middlemen were shortchanging both miners and government, hence the decision to sideline them.
“We will establish an SPV of the government which will purchase chrome at international prices . . . We have a market for that product in Russia,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa has previously accused major chrome smelter Zimasco of sabotaging the economy by selling chrome through middlemen who then diverted the resources. He also warned Zimasco and ZimAlloys that they risked losing their chrome ore reserves which they were allegedly holding onto for speculative purposes.
“They pegged the whole country and are now thinking they are the rightful owners of the chrome ore reserves, but in government we are saying if you don’t use it you will lose it and those who can use it among you should go and take it,” he said.
Zimbabwe currently sits on nearly a billion metric tonnes of chrome ore reserves which lie untapped along the Great Dyke.
“From that billion, as government we are going to allow just 30 million to be mined and exported in its raw form and at the current rate of extraction it could take you 15 years,” he said.
Chrome smelting companies in the Midlands which include Zimasco, Zimalloys and Oliken Ferrochrome have been hit hard by low world market prices of the metal and rising costs forcing them to cut production and trim their workforce.
Zimasco recently sent home 645 workers with 400 being axed from its main smelting plant in Kwekwe.
Two months ago, government lifted the ban on exports of raw chrome in a move aimed at bringing in the much-needed foreign currency.