BY Taurai Mangudhla
ATTRACTIVE international prices for major minerals except gold, coupled with stability in the mining sector despite the COVID-19-related lockdowns has seen Zimbabwe’s mineral exports exceed the projected numbers for the 11 months of 2020 by 29,4%, according to latest figures. The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) revealed that cumulative mineral exports, excluding gold which falls under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), amounted to US$2,2 billion, which was 29,4% above the budgeted US$1,7 billion for the eleven months.
“We have done quite well at more than 25% above of the target,” MMCZ general manager Tongai Muzenda said in an interview with NewsDay Business.
“This is mostly due to good prices and good exports from almost all minerals which is everything exported except for gold.”
During the same period last year, sales stood at US$1,75 billion, which was 3% above the 2020 budget.
In actual terms, mineral sales went up by 25,7%.
As of October, sales were 21% above budget at US$1,95 billion, the biggest contributors being PGMs, ferrochrome and chrome ore.
The performance comes as Zimbabwe targets to attain US$12 billion from the mining sector by 2023.
The ambitious targets are driven by projections in the production of gold, chrome, diamonds, platinum and coal as well as other precious metals.
The country’s total gold deliveries tumbled by 16,7 % to 1,5 tonnes in November compared to the same period prior year after deliveries from small-scale producers reduced significantly.
According to FPR statistics gleaned by this publication, gold deliveries stood at 1,48 tonnes in November 2020 down from 1,84 tonnes in the same period prior year.
Deliveries from small-scale producers fell by 40,1% to 581,6 kg as side marketing persists due to payment delays at FPR as the country’s sole gold buyer reels from forex shortages.
As a result, gold has been finding its way into neighbouring countries through the porous borders with smuggling rings cashing in on the system’s failures.
An exchange rate crisis that appeared to have subsided with some level of stability recently is also causing problems for miners.
A crippling power crisis that has seen miners seeking dedicated lines and paying forex to ensure power imports is threatening the industry.
Some players, including Blanket Mine, Mimosa, Zimplats and ZCDC are mulling putting in place solar power plants that are far cheaper as compared to diesel-powered generators currently being used in the event of power outages.
The use of diesel power has seen production costs swelling for a number of players, eroding revenue margins.
The marketing of minerals has also suffered due to lack of foreign currency, coupled with bottlenecks in licensing and policy inconsistencies.
The MMCZ is, however, considering a raft of measures to improve payments to particularly small-scale chrome producers, including making upfront payments for the mineral, to stimulate production and ensure viability of the sector.
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