Zimbabwe’s chrome industry, which is currently contributing less than 3% to global output, has potential to grow if key constraints to accessing favourable export markets are removed, an official has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Speaking at a business meeting in Bulawayo recently, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) general manager Tongai Muzenda said the chrome industry was being affected by sanctions, restricted payment terms, poor road and rail infrastructure, foreign currency shortages and logistics challenges, among others.
“With 12% of the global chromite resources and its chrome ore and ferrochrome production currently contributing less than 3% to global output, the Zimbabwean chrome ore industry has significant potential to grow in the next few years,” Muzenda said.
Zimbabwe holds the world’s second largest chrome ore reserves after South Africa.
The bulk of chrome ore is used in the production of stainless steel. Chromium has no substitute in stainless steel production, making it a strategic global commodity.
Muzenda said some of the challenges affecting the industry were lack of environmental, safety, research and technical support from arms of government, predatory buying along the Great Dyke, pricing of chrome that is not in line with international markets, high risk of transfer pricing and lack of policy on value addition and beneficiation.
There is also the non-availability of weighbridges, logistics and infrastructure support, unregulated tributary arrangements, lack of mining equipment and under-capitalisation, forcing miners to surrender majority stakes in claims in order to remain in business as well as delays in receiving proceeds, resulting in profits being eroded.
Muzenda said there was need to align local prices to international prices.
“MMCZ will facilitate a one-stop-shop with relevant departments,” he said.
He said concerted efforts among artisanal and small-scale miners would yield more for the sector.
“The country is poised to change its fortunes through the mining sector, with the artisanal and small-scale miners playing a pivotal role. MMCZ is open to discussing strategic partnerships for exploitation of chrome ore resources so that the ASM sector is included in the mainstream economy. MMCZ would like to challenge artisanal and small-scale miners to explore for new deposits and to mine them sustainably,” he said.