By Freeman Makopa
Zimbabwe is targeting to generate over US$4 billion in revenue from the mining sector this year, Mines minister Winston Chitando has said.
In 2018, the sector earned US$3,4 billion driven by the high performance of the gold sector, which delivered a record 33,2 tonnes, but output could have been higher had it not been for disturbance towards the end of last year.
Foreign currency shortages intensified during the third and fourth quarter last year, leading to cuts in production at a number of mines, which could not pay foreign suppliers.
“Fundamentally, I would like to state that the mining industry is poised to become a US$12 billion industry by 2023 and you may be aware that in 2017, revenues were around US$2,4 billion. Last year, we did about US$3,4 billion. In 2019, we are projecting about US$4 billion and we are getting to US$12 billion by 2023. All the milestones to achieve that are all in place,” Chitando said.
Foreign investor interest in the southern African nation has been growing since the fall of long-time leader Robert Mugabe following a de facto military coup in November 2017.
But the current economic and political turbulence seems to have dampened investor confidence, forcing government officials on a charm offensive.
According to the Chamber of Mines, the country needs up to US$11 billion to modernise its mines and boost production to maximum capacity over the next five years.
Chitando said the diamond sector was also expected to up its contribution in terms of revenue generation.
“We are putting up by the end of this year what we call a Diamond Value Management Centre. This centre will have the latest technology for cleaning and sorting the diamonds because you get higher value for diamond by better cleaning, so we would then put the latest technology and then we get higher value from the cleaning processes,” he said.
Government has an ambitious forecast for diamond output of 4,1 million carats by year-end, up from 1,7 million carats produced in 2018.
At its peak in 2012, Zimbabwe’s diamond sector produced 12 million carats.