The troubled chrome mining sector in the country is faced with a bleak future post-Covid-19, a trade unionist has said.
Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union secretary-general, Justice Chinhema in his Workers Day message Friday, said chrome mining faces bleak prospects in the country.
“In our mining industry, the impact of Corona pandemic will be devastating in the small scale mining ventures especially those in the chrome mining and other big names who were already struggling to operate before this health disaster struck us,” Chinhema said.
Some of the biggest chrome operators in the country who have suspended operations include Zimasco, Portnex and African Chrome Fields (ACF).
Chinhema said as the country went into a lockdown which started 30 March, “the mining industry was given a reprieve to continue operating upon meeting some required conditions”.
“On the extension of the lockdown, all mines in Zimbabwe were again given a reprieve to scale up operations, in other words, they were allowed to operate at full capacity as long as they adhere to the set down conditions set by the Ministry of Health in line with the World Health Organisation recommendations,” he said.
The chrome mining sector has seen its fortunes take a nosedive amid low demand for the mineral, fluid prices, and even poor prices at the world market.
A capital-intensive industry, most chrome mines in the country have been experiencing operational challenges which have seen most scale down operations.
The situation has been worsened by Covid-19.
With most European and Asian markets closed due to COVID-19, the industry could not be in a worse position.
Said Chinhema, “It is however sad to note that some mines are not going to open especially those owned by Chinese who are involved in Chrome Mining in the Great Dyke Belt because these were never genuine investors in the first place but looters to be precise.
“We also have cases where small scale miners, artisanal miners who in the past were failing to provide basic Protective Personal Equipment have failed to open their operations because they do not have the capacity to supply workers with sanitizers, face masks and other personal hygiene requirements as required by the law.
“They would rather remain closed than risk lives of thousands of their families across the country.”