BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE realised about $455 million from mineral sales, excluding gold and silver, in the first quarter of the year, with chrome being the biggest contributor, an official has said.
“The first quarter was not bad for all our minerals. In total, the country produced about 399 000 tonnes of minerals valued at $455 million. However, this figure was below our target by 3%. We had targeted to realise $471 million for the quarter,” Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) general manager, Tongai Muzenda told NewsDay.
Muzenda said the biggest drivers in terms of tonnage were chrome concentrates, chrome ore as well as ferrochrome, with hitting 240 000 tonnes. Platinum group metals (PGMs) amounted to 30 000 tonnes.
He, however, warned that some mining companies would fail to break even because of subdued metal prices in the period under review.
Last year, prices of nickel were hovering at around $13 000, but now they are at $11 770 per tonne. Muzenda said there was need to address the issue of power shortages in the country because failure to do so would result in subdued production.
“The biggest challenge that we have at the moment is electricity. We may struggle due to load-shedding, because mining companies rely on power. With these power outages, we could be exporting less. I also foresee prices in the second quarter suffering a little bit,” Muzenda said.
Chrome was the biggest driver in terms of tonnages, while PGMs contributed $287million. Last year, the country realised $421 million from mineral sales after exporting 466 000 tonnes of minerals.
He added that the completion of the Unki Mine’s $62 million platinum smelting plant is expected to transform the Zimbabwe mining industry as it is hoped that it would enable the country to realise more from its platinum resources through beneficiation.
The plant, set to be commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa today, was developed by platinum miners, Unki, Mimosa Mining Company in Zvishavane and Zimplats in Mhondoro-Ngezi.
The three agreed to set up platinum refineries at their respective mining sites, while at the same time pooling resources together to construct a bigger processing plant at Zimplats.