Zimbabwe’s mineral export earnings rose 7 percent in eight months to August this year, to $1,03 billion from $974 million a year earlier, according to latest official statistics.
The figure exclude earnings from gold and silver, which are under the purview of Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe generates about 65 percent of its foreign currency from mineral exports.
Earnings from platinum group metals (concentrate) rose 18 percent to $302,7 million from $256 million a year ago, the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe said.
PGMs (matte) export earnings, however, declined to $360 million from $370 million. PGMs concentrate shipments was flat at 96 000 tonnes, while PGMs mate export volumes declined 9 percent to 7 256 tonnes from 7 962 tonnes. Nickel earnings rose 113 percent to $44,2 million from $20,8 million, coke increased 68 percent to $16,3 million from $9,7 million and diamonds surged 38 percent to $62,2 million from $45 million. Granite export earnings rose 5 percent to $20,5 million from $19,6 million.
High carbon ferrochrome increased by 3 percent to about $209 million from $204 million. Chrome ore earnings increased 80 percent to $12,5 million from $7 million, driven by lumpy. Chrome concentrate, however, declined, dragged by low demand from China. Chrome concentrate earnings fell by 8 percent to $50,3 million from $54,8 million.
“Following the recent visit to China, MMCZ established that there is a huge stockpile, approximately 3,6 million tonnes of chrome ore at the Chinese ports; hence customers are not in a hurry to place big orders,” the MMCZ said.
“Furthermore, there has been a spat of smelter shutdowns for smelters that are not environmentally compliant. This has compounded the fall in demand for chrome ore.
“In addition, the US sanctions on Turkey and Iran have resulted in the devaluation of these countries’ currencies thereby resulting in dropping of prices. The devaluation of the rand has also negatively impacted pricing of chrome.”
Given the preceding background and against the minimum floor price below which chrome ore cannot be profitably exported, MMCZ said was imperative that local miners, represented by the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation engages the local smelters and negotiate minimum prices for local beneficiation on behalf of their membership.
Such an arrangement could positively impact the operations of the small scale miners and curtail any predatory buying by local smelters, it added.
Zimbabwe is working on a new mining policy targeting to grow the industry to $17 billion by 2030, driven by a wave of foreign investments which will see a jump in production at existing operations, and the development of new mines.
The blueprint lists gold, platinum, coal, coal bed methane and lithium as the key drivers of this growth.