By Golden Sibanda
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has challenged the local manufacturing industry to quickly position itself for anticipated boom of the mining sector to be able to produce and supply key equipment and other inputs required by the sector.
Minister Chitando last week told delegates at the 2018 edition of the Mining Engineering and Transport exhibition (Mine Entra) in Bulawayo that with the mining sector primed for massive growth there was no reason Zimbabwe should continue importing certain items needed by mining firms.
This is in line with President Mnangagwa’s vision of growing Zimbabwe to middle-income status by 2030, with per capita income of $3 500. To that end, the mining sector is designated as one of the key anchors set to drive the short to medium growth through productivity and beneficiation in among others, gold, platinum, diamonds, coal and lithium.
The mines minister made the remarks after earlier indicating that there was an array of initiatives and planned investment projects across the entire mining sector, which had put the country’s mining sector on a firm path to sustainable growth prospects. These included expected further growth in gold output, which reached 28 tonnes in the eight months to September 2018 compared to 24,8 tonnes for the entire 2017, plans to build gold service centres across Zimbabwe — with one already running in Bubi — planned tailor-made support for small-scale miners, who delivered nearly half of gold in 2017; planned funding support to gold miners by Government through Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
As for gold, as for the nine months to September 2018, deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, were 28,2 tonnes; a 54 percent increase compared to 18,2 tonnes recorded in the same period last year.
“With all this growth, this creates opportunities for downstream industry industries. We should not be importing conveyor belts anymore, we should be importing the chemicals; we should not be importing steel balls. We now want to see these industries established here.
“That is really the challenge we need to deal with; so it is absolutely important for the industrialists, those who are in here to work together,” Minister Chitando said, bemoaning a situation where suppliers did not take advantage of a platform in the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe to meet and understand what the industry needed.
“So, I say to the industrialists in this room don’t be left behind. Things are moving, the growth I am talking about is happening; the 100 tonnes (gold), which we are targeting by 2023 is happening, we have companies who now have the ability to produce or process refractory gold, which will further help achieve the 100 tonnes target per annum.
Significant demand for manufactured products and mining inputs is also anticipated to come
from lithium mining and processing industry, where the country is developing at least three promising projects. One, Bikita Minerals, is already in production.
In another lithium project, Australian firm Prospect Resources has successfully established a lithium carbonate plant, whose product can go straight into production of electric vehicles. Minister Chitando said the project will come along with a lot of linkages to the lithium-ion batteries industry.