The Sunday Mail
Kuda Bwititi and Tanyaradzwa Kutaura
Zimbabwe’s mining sector is on an exponential growth trajectory with the sector expected to earn $3,5 billion this year from increased production.
Last year, the country earned $2,6 billion from mining.
The latest figures from the Chamber of Mines show that the 2017 earnings will be easily eclipsed by strong production in gold, diamonds, chrome, coal, nickel and lithium.
Impressive performances in the sector have been anchored by gold output which stood at 21 tonnes as at 31 July, earning Zimbabwe more than $850 million. Authorities are targeting a record 35 tonnes by year-end.
Diamond production is also on the up, with expectations that output will reach three million carats in 2018 up from 1,8 million last year.
Platinum production is on the rise, and is expected to get even stronger in the next few years due to new ventures at Karo Resources and Great Dyke in Mhondoro and Darwendale respectively.
The Mines and Mining Development Ministry expects mining growth to be sustained in the next five years, culminating in the sector earning $12 billion by 2023.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said, “The mining sector in 2017 recorded gross revenues of around $2,6 billion and we expect this figure to go to $12 billion by the year 2023, and this is underpinned by growth in most minerals.
“For 2018, we are expecting to earn around US$3,5 billion, which is an increase in earnings by about $1 billion from last year. Everything so far indicates that we will reach this year’s target.”
Minister Chitando said President Mnangagwa’s vision for a middle-income economy by 2030 had primed the mining sector to pursue ambitious but realistic targets, such as gold output of 100 tonnes by 2023.
He said gold was thus far the star performer.
“Gold has been impressive. We have reviewed upwards our target for gold output this year to 35 tonnes from the 30 tonnes that we had initially set,” said the minister.
“The idea is to hit 100 tonnes per annum by 2023 from 26 tonnes recorded last year. This will be underpinned by growth from both small-scale mining production and medium-to-large-scale mining production.”
Minister Chitando said while platinum production would be maintained at about the same levels produced last year, output would significantly rise once the Karo Resources project was onstream.
Responding to questions from The Sunday Mail, Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Isaac Kwesu lauded Government for implementing policies that stimulated production.
“This performance is largely attributed to an improved operating environment, patches of improved access to working capital, and timeous allocation of foreign currency by (the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) to import raw materials.
“It is against this that majority of key minerals have posted significant output growth led by gold (percent), chrome (34 percent), diamonds (32 percent), coal (22 percent), and lithium (55 percent). Only output for (platinum group metals) related minerals was subdued during the comparable periods,” he said.
Data from the Chamber of Mines shows diamond output increased to more than 1,5 million carats this year compared to 1,08 million carats in the first half of 2017.
Chrome improved from 594 954 tonnes to 691 882 tonnes, while nickel jumped from 6 922 tonnes to 7 366 tonnes.
Lithium rose from 19 153 tonnes to 29 259 tonnes, while coal production improved from 874 796 tonnes to 1 117 133 tonnes. Cobalt and granite production are also up.
Mr Kwese added: “Basing on revised production targets by mining companies, we are expecting that the positive mineral output trajectory will be sustained in the second half of 2018 and the sector’s growth targets be surpassed.”