By Melody Chikono
MINERAL exports revenue jumped 12% to US$372,5 million in the first quarter of the year (Q1) compared to US$332,4 million in the same period in 2017 driven by increased tonnage output.
Figures released by the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, an agent of government responsible for marketing all minerals excluding gold and silver which are marketed by Fidelity Printers and Refiners, shows that Zimbabwe earned US$1,4 billion last year.
Revenue is seen rising to US$1,5 billion this year .
In Q1, Platinum Group Metals (PGMS) concentrates took the lead, raking in US$119,3 million up from US$90,7 million same periods last year.
The concentrates tonnage stood at 36,4 metric tonnes (mt) down from the 37,6mt in the corresponding period last year owing to a slight improvement in the prices of the metals.
PGMS matte came in second with revenue standing at US$143 million during the quarter for 2,614mt while in the corresponding period it raked in US$128,4 million for 2,583mt exported.
While chrome followed the PGMS in terms of revenue, chrome concentrates performed better than chrome ore lumpy, although the latter had a much bigger variance at 88%.
Chrome concentrates revenue went up 28% to US$23,8 million in Q1 from US$20,7 million in the same period in 2017 while exports also increased 57% to 149,1 mt from 94,8mt in 2017.
The country has seen an increase in chrome produced due to releasing of chrome mining claims. It also follows the lifting of a ban on raw chrome exports in 2015 to increase export earnings.
Chrome ore lumpy saw an 88% increase in revenue to US$5,7 million from US$3 million Q1 2017.
High carbon ferrochrome at 66,9mt fell 7% from 71,8mt in Q1 2016 while it also fell 22% in revenue to US$63,1 million from US$80 million Q1 2017.
A modest recovery in international commodity prices is projected to spur growth in mining this year according to the African Development Bank.
Zimbabwe has already repealed empowerment regulations, which prohibited majority ownership of mines by foreigners for all minerals except for platinum and diamond.