BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
PLATINUM contributed about 43% of the total mineral exports last year, surpassing gold which accounted for 37%, a central bank official has said.
In a presentation to the Professionals Business Association of Zimbabwe breakfast meeting in Bulawayo recently, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) deputy director at the Bulawayo regional office Kasanda Sibanda said platinum group metals (PGMs) contributed about 43% of the total mineral exports, up from 35,93% recorded in 2018.
“Contribution of platinum and palladium increased significantly on the back of substantial investments by the platinum group metals (PGM) houses. Platinum output has been on a steady increase since 2000, from 505 kilogrammes per annum to 15 500 kilogrammes in 2019,” he said.
Anglo American Platinum, one of the largest platinum miners in the country, last year opened its US$62 million smelter at Unki Mine.
The establishment of the smelting facility will reduce the amount of PGMs concentrates being exported and increase foreign currency earnings.
Zimbabwe has the world’s second biggest platinum reserves after South Africa.
In 2019, gold contributed about 37% to mineral exports, down from 43% recorded in the previous year. Diamonds accounted for 5,71%, nickel 1,72% and black granite contributed 0,84%.
Gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners declined by 17% to 27,66 tonnes last year.
The decline was attributable to electricity challenges and gold leakages through smuggling.
In 2019, total mining export receipts according to RBZ amounted to US$2,91 billion, representing about 55,2% of total export receipts.
The improved mining contribution to the economy in the last three years has been anchored on increased output by small-scale players, particularly in the gold sector.
The mining sector is the major source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe.
To ensure long-term increased mining contribution to economic growth, Sibanda said there was need for enhanced mineral value addition and beneficiation for PGMs, chrome ore, diamonds, nickel and coking coal.
“Mining can support sustainable economic development when domestic firms become integrated into mining value chains. Value addition and mineral beneficiation is also critical to enhance the contribution of the sector in the economy,” he said.
Sibanda said the benefits of increased mining linkages included contributions to incomes, jobs, upgrading of the industrial base, formalisation of firms, and increased tax revenue.
Zimbabwe produces about 40 mineral products but production since 2000 has been dominated by about nine minerals which are gold, platinum, palladium, coal, nickel, chrome, diamonds, black granite and asbestos.
The contribution of mining to GDP is estimated at 7% in 2019 down from 8,1% in 2009.