The value of Zimbabwe’s exports of processed chrome has risen by a significant 440 percent in the first two months of this year to $54 million from $10 million in the prior comparable period, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has said.
The improvement is largely due to a number of policies and strategies that Government has put in place in respect of the mining sub-sector over the last few years including the promotion of beneficiation of raw minerals and support to small-scale producers.
Said Minister Chidhakwa:“Chrome over the last two months has earned $54 million, when the first two months of last year it earned a mere $10 million so you can see the growth over the past year has been very significant and I am talking here not about raw chrome but ferro-chrome.
“What has happened to the furnaces and smelters has been very significant. What we have also done is that we have negotiated with both Zimasco and ZimAlloys and we have secured 50 percent of the concessions that were under Zimasco and we are going to be allocating them to small-scale enterprises.”
The Mines Minister, who is also acting Minister of Finance and Economic Development was speaking during the official launch of the rebranded regional financier, the Trade and Development Bank (TDB).
He called upon the financier to structure funding for the chrome sector, which will largely benefit the small-scale producers.
“Our hope and expectation to the bank is that you will be able to package finance for these to produce chrome on the 25 hectare plots that we are going to give them. But we are going to do it in such a way that the smelters will be the collectors of the funding, so the small-scale will produce chrome, they will sell to the smelters and the smelters will export.
“And when they export, we will deduct payments for whatever equipment will have been given to the small-scale sector,” he said.
Minister Chidhakwa added that the same model could be applied to the gold sector this year to further boost output.
The country expects chrome ore production to double this year to 550 000 tonnes from 284 943 tonnes last year, while ferrochrome output is also expected to increase to 300 000 tonnes, up from 149 000 tonnes.