Small-scale chrome miners yesterday defended Chinese companies’ pricing policy on chrome saying contrary to what big chrome miners like Zimbabwe Alloys and Zimasco told Parliament last week, the Chinese were actually offering better prices for the mineral.
The miners made the remarks when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga, which had invited them to give oral evidence on chrome mining in Zimbabwe.
The committee also wanted the small-scale miners to explain how the ban on chrome exports had affected their operations.
“The current big local companies buy chrome from small-scale miners below market price and they pay 30 to 45 days later, yet foreign buyers pay us in advance,” said a small-scale miner who refused to be named.
“We have willing Chinese buyers and they buy the chrome at $120 per tonne and yet the local big companies were buying at $60 or $65 per tonne. The Chinese are actually incurring more costs because they have to ship the chrome and by the time it arrives in China it would have cost them up to $265 per tonne.”
Claims by the small-scale miners were contrary to what Zimasco services director Joel Zvaipa told the committee last week that China was dictating the pricing of chrome since it was the largest importer in terms of tonnage, but paid very low prices for it.
One of the small-scale miners, Tendai Matambanadzo, said the problem was not the Chinese, but Zimbabwe needed to look at its policies and invest on technology in order to be competitive.
Said Matambanadzo: “The reason why China has forged ahead has something to do with their competitiveness and that they are able to smelt at a lower cost than what we are doing in Zimbabwe. China also has less stringent environmental and engineering conditions and they have availability of electricity and technology and that is why they are viable.”