via President laments power shortages – DailyNews Live 7 November 2014 by John Kachembere
HARARE – President Robert Mugabe says electricity shortages and lack of appropriate technology are hampering the development of the mining sector.
Mugabe told delegates attending this year’s edition of the Diamond Conference that despite Zimbabwe being endowed with natural resources, the country remained in a poor state.
“But, so far, despite this huge mineral endowment, exploitation of the country’s minerals in general, upstream, side stream and downstream, have been limited by factors that include power shortages, technology gap and uneven market conditions,” he said.
Zimbabwe, which has been experiencing massive power outages since the Zanu PF-led government won elections last year, was recently forced to revise its 2014 economic growth from 6,1 percent to 3,1 percent largely due to the non-performance of the mining industry.
In his mid-term policy statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa slashed mining sector growth for this year to -1,9 percent from the projected 10,7 percent.
The mining sector had been the most dynamic of Zimbabwe’s economy over the last five years, leading the country’s 2009-11 economic rebound with average annualised growth of 35 percent.
The sector contributes 45 percent to the country’s exports and $3 billion to Gross Domestic Product.
Mugabe said the southern African country can only benefit from its minerals through investment in appropriate technologies and undertaking new exploration projects to discover new mines and ramping up production on existing mines, among other measures.
“In spite of mining being an important contributor to the country’s economy, the mining sector has been limited to extraction and exportation of minerals in their raw or semi-processed form, without due care taken to beneficiation and value addition.
“The finite resources should be made to remain competitive, in both regional and global markets,” he added.
The veteran leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, said the success of the economic blueprint ZimAsset was premised on local mineral beneficiation and value addition.
“Local beneficiation and value addition of mineral commodities enhances value resulting in more revenue for the communities, investors and government, and in accruing additional benefits such as employment and infrastructure development,” he said.
The five-year economic blueprint — which according to Treasury requires $27 billion to be fully implemented — has failed to take off due to lack of funding.
Turning to beneficiation of diamonds, Mugabe noted that the country had reserved a minimum of 10 percent quota of all the rough diamond exports for local cutting and polishing.
“The quota will be reviewed as the cutting and polishing industry grows. Currently, the cutting and polishing industry is still in its infant stage,” he added.
Mugabe urged the delegates attending the conference to consider options to introduce existing and emerging technologies, derived from research and development, to make value addition and beneficiation a reality.
“African diamond producing countries and other developing countries have a lot to gain by transforming the mining industry from a predominantly extractive state to an integrated productive one that is informed by advances in science and technology, supported by mineral-specific well-trained human capacities and well-equipped infrastructures,” he said.