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Beneficiation: Govt bans chrome concentrate exports

Government intends to ban exports of chrome concentrates with effect from July 1 next year in a bid to push companies to invest in beneficiation facilities, a Cabinet Minister has said.

Zimbabwe holds the world’s second-largest reserves of high-grade chromium ore after South Africa, with deposits of about 10 billion tonnes, equivalent to around 12 percent of the global total, according to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. In August last year, the Government imposed a ban on raw chrome in a move meant to encourage chrome miners to invest in beneficiation facilities.

Mineral beneficiation is expected to help Zimbabwe achieve the US$12 billion mining economy target by 2023.

“Government will enforce the ban on export of unprocessed chrome ore and chrome concentrates, while export of chrome concentrates will be banned with effect from July 1, 2022,” Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube revealed.

“Going forward, awarding of chrome mining claims will be dependent upon the setting up of integrated chrome mining and ferrochrome smelting by prospective mining houses.”

Minister Ncube said to realise maximum value from the country’s minerals, the Government would also target beneficiation through setting up of gold processing and milling service centres and facilitate establishment of more diamond cutting and polishing factories.

He added that the Government was also supporting the private sector towards establishment of a Base Metal Refinery (BMR) while issuance of coal licences to mining companies would now be dependent on establishment of coke oven batteries.

The Government has also set aside resources for hiring and capacitation of mining extension officers to enable them to monitor and support mining activities at provincial and district levels to enhance production and productivity.

On the legislation, the Government was prioritising the completion of the amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act to align it with international best practices.

The draft Amendment Bill has been completed and is now under consideration by Parliament. To improve access to the international market, increased productivity, enhanced liquidity and better pricing of our mineral resources, the Government is looking at establishing the Mineral Commodities Exchange riding on the existing Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange.

“The Exchange will provide for both spot market and futures market, that enables the trading of mineral commodities on an organised, transparent and regulated marketplace for the benefit of all miners including artisanal and small-scale miners, and the nation at large,” said Minister Ncube. Twenty two smelters are now operational.

Unless chrome mining capacity is expanded, the smelting operations could soon face the challenge of insufficient feedstock in the form of chrome ore, the Government said.

Growth in mining is estimated to reach 3,4 percent this year, on account of improved performance by all minerals, as well favourable international mineral prices, on the back of strong global demand and ongoing economic recovery.

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