Zim to ramp up chrome production

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HARARE – Zimbabwe is planning to export over 800 000 tonnes of chrome this year, following the country’s move to re-distribute land previously held by miners.


Mines minister Walter Chidakwa yesterday said government was moving to re-allocate 21 170 hectares (ha) of land that once belonged to the country’s biggest chrome producer, Zimasco, to new smelters and small-scale miners.


“In 2017, we expect output to improve as we expect Zim Alloys and Zimasco to work on their slug dumps. We are projecting 300 000 tonnes  of high carbon ferrochrome and 550 000 tonnes of raw chrome ore to be exported,” he said.


This comes as the country earned $115 million from the sale of 140 000 tonnes of high carbon ferrochrome last year, while 284 943 tonnes of raw chrome were exported for $31 million.


“So judging from these numbers you see that raw chrome is not earning us much, but lifting the ban on exportation of raw chrome is just a temporary measure to support our smelters,” Chidakwa said.


The mines ministry is also in talks with Zim Alloys — which presently holds a total of 39 175ha — for the former Anglo-American subsidiary to submit 22 000 ha.


Before Zimasco submitted ground to government, it jointly controlled about 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s chrome ore claims, mostly found along the Great Dyke, together with Zim Alloys.


“Government also took note of the need to generate much-needed revenue for the fiscus by putting idle claims to use after noting that Zimasco and Zim Alloys, from their 50-year plans, possessed vast tracks of land they would still have in their possession…


“Following the release of chrome mining claims by Zimasco to government, and the subsequent gazetting of the entire Great Dyke as a Reserved Area, chrome mining can now be accessed by means of special grants,” he said.


The minister pointed out that of the 21 270ha, 9 643ha was in Mashonaland Central, 2 390ha in Mashonaland West, 8 563ha in Midlands with the remaining 674ha in Masvingo province.


“It is noted that this figure is 1 000ha short of the original 22 270ha earmarked for distributorship. This is being addressed through the ground trothing exercise…


“In this light, 5 746ha of this land will go to the Zimbabwe Geological Survey, 7 000ha to medium scale beneficiation plants and new smelters. Small-scale miners, who include individuals, special interest groups like war veterans, women and the youth will receive 10 000ha to promote empowerment of marginalised groups and indigenisation,” Chidakwa added.

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