MINES and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando yesterday urged the mining industry to focus on research and development to uncover new sources of critical minerals and create innovative techniques for extraction and processing.

Officially opening the critical minerals symposium in Victoria Falls yesterday, Chitando said critical minerals would help to develop Zimbabwe’s economy.

“We must, however, acknowledge the challenges that may be faced in developing and enhancing the critical minerals value chain,” he said.

“One of the notable challenges is the leakage of minerals which shortchanges their supply along the value chain.”

He said curbing mineral leakages was key to protecting the critical minerals value chain and ensuring a sustainable supply chain.

“It is imperative that we develop ethical and environmentally responsible mining and processing practices throughout the value chain,” he noted.

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In an effort to address this issue, Chitando said the government introduced the responsible mining initiative in 2023 with the goal of making environmental issues a top priority.

“Another challenge is the processing and refining of the minerals. Most of the world’s current processing capacity is available in a few countries,” he said.

“This has the potential to create vulnerabilities and price fluctuations. It is in this light that the country must develop domestic refining and processing capabilities to enhance economic independence.

“We need to take a comprehensive and co-operative approach in order to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the potential that critical minerals bring. Prioritising research and development is necessary in order to find new sources of critical minerals and create cutting-edge techniques for their extraction and processing.”

He implored all stakeholders to work together to ensure sustainable growth of the critical minerals value chain.