THE mining sector will next month hold a two-day mineral beneficiation conference in the resort town of Victoria Falls as efforts to beneficiate minerals intensify.
The meeting comes at a time when some mining companies have submitted their beneficiation plans to government.
The conference will be held under the theme ‘Beneficiation: Maximising value from the mining sector in Zimbabwe.’
Government last year gave platinum miners a two year ultimatum to build a refinery amid concerns that Treasury could be losing millions of dollars by exporting unprocessed minerals. The country’s three major platinum firms — Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki are currently processing the white metal in South Africa. To ensure that companies comply, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa this month effected a 15% levy on exports of raw platinum.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CMZ) executive council member, Herbert Mashanyare said the Institute of Mining Research (IMR), CMZ and the Platinum producers committee of the Chamber of Mines signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a tripartite collaborative research project.
“The conference seeks to provide a platform for open dialogue on the status of local mineral beneficiation in Zimbabwe, opportunities and challenges and the way forward. Stakeholders will not be from the mining industry. We are looking for participants from beyond our borders,” he said.
IMR is an institute of the University of Zimbabwe under the Faculty of Science. The institute has done research that has the following themes mining-economics and policy, environment and safety, geological prospecting and exploration and mining metallurgy.
Zimplats head of corporate affairs manager Busi Chindove recently said that the company had submitted a response to the the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development on how to participate in the set up of refining facilities of Platinum Group Metals in Zimbabwe.
“The company’s response is now with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development awaiting consideration. Zimplats has consistently stated its commitment to Zimbabwe and to playing a role in the country’s development agenda including the country’s desire for local beneficiation of PGM’s,” Chindove said.
Last year, the CMZ said local platinum miners required $2,8 billion to set up base and precious metal smelters and refineries and this could be achieved once production was significantly increased.
Zimbabwe currently has the second known largest platinum reserves after South Africa. Experts say underfunding and limited exploration has over the years stifled growth of the mining sector, now the mainstay of the economy after overtaking agriculture. Mining contribution to GDP has grown from an average of 10,2% in the 1990s to an average of 16,9% from 2009–2011.