GOVERNMENT has extended its moratorium on the ban of raw granite exports to March next year to operators in the granite sector to enable them to finalise beneficiation plans.
In July this year, the government banned the exportation of unprocessed granite unless authorised by the minister of Mines and Mining Development as part of efforts to accelerate the beneficiation of minerals.
Statutory Instrument 127 of 2022, the Mines and Minerals (Prohibition Order of Exportations of Unprocessed Granite) Notice, 2022, was gazetted by Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando in terms of section 3 of the Base Minerals Export Control Act.
However, pre-existing valid contracts for the export of unprocessed granite will be allowed to continue until they expire, which will give many in the business, time to set up cutting and polishing operations within Zimbabwe or hire others to do so.
The moratorium follows an outcry by operators in the granite sector, who pointed out that the import ban was abrupt and had disrupted the processes put in place to start beneficiation of the mineral.
They noted that the sudden ban had threatened more than 2 600 jobs in the sector.
Government in response then gave granite operators a reprieve of up to October this year. However government has further extended the reprieve to March next year.
“ The government has extended the moratorium to March next year after we held negotiations with them on an extension although ideally we would have wanted for the moratorium to be extended to the end of next year as this will allow us to complete the setting up of our machinery for beneficiation,” one of the operators said.
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Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Polite Kambamura recently revealed that the grace period had not been extended to all granite operators but those who had shown proof of commitment towards the beneficiation process.
“We have given a grace period only to those who have proof of commitment towards the beneficiation plans and not to all of them. We put a ban on granite exports because we want local value addition and beneficiation of our minerals as indicated under the National Development Strategy 1,” Kambamura said.
He added that his ministry had visited the operations of those who had applied for a reprieve to see what they were doing towards beneficiation of the mineral and were impressed with progress being made.
Granite is mainly extracted in Mutoko and Mt Darwin where producers are exporting granite in its raw form.
Producers are already wailing from various operational challenges, which include power outages and foreign currency shortages, resulting in the closure of half of the operating companies over the past two years.
Granite makes up about 1,6% of Zimbabwe’s total exports, far below gold (32%) and raw tobacco (14%).