The Sunday Mail
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando says all ducks are now in a row for massive economic turnaround as the mining sector, driven by gold, diamonds, coal, chrome and platinum; bids to generate US$12 billion by the year 2030.
Production targets and timelines for the various minerals have been outlined, setting the stage for massive work for the next twelve years.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seen by market watchers as goal-driven, has set 2030 as the year by which the country would have become an upper middle income economy with citizens on decent jobs and a per capita GPD of US$3 500.
The President has directed all ministries to come up with quick-wins for the immediate turnaround of the economy, while not losing sight of the broader desire to set a firm foundation for the reversal of almost a decade of economic under performance.
Minister Chitando recently said Vision 2030 would be achieved through massive economic growth, spurred by investments, mainly in the mining sector.
With the investment climate dramatically improved following the amendment of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act to allow investors to own 100 percent of their investments except in the platinum and diamond sectors, investor interest is building up.
Between January and June this year, the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) approved investment proposals worth US$12 billion, a first for the country since independence.
The Transitional Stabilisation Plan (TSP), which outlines a raft of economic reforms central to economic growth, has also attracted global attention, particularly in the West, and more investments are expected.
A stellar performance by the mining sector between January and August, which saw diamonds recording a 22 percent jump to 2,2 million carats, lithium minerals rising from 34 110 tonnes to 49 359 tonnes, granite (46 percent to 160 600 tonnes), coal (4 percent surge to 2,4 million tonnes) and platinum group metals increasing by almost 1 percent, suggests a brighter future for the country.
Minister Chitando said there are very firm and concrete plans that will see the mining sector contributing over US$12 billion by 2030.
Last year, the mining sector generated US$2,7 billion in revenue, spurred by an output boom in gold, diamonds and platinum.
Plans for gold sector
The gold sector has metamorphosed from being a 3 tonnes sector in 2008 to 24,8 tonnes last year driven by artisanal miners who contributed 53 percent of the output.
The statistics are crazier this year, with 28 tonnes having been delivered to the country’s sole gold buying company, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), by September 30th.
FPR is a unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Gold deliveries topped at 27,1 tonnes in 1999, and the record is set to be broken this year.
“For gold, it’s the increase from 25 tonnes last year to over 100 tonnes by 2030. And that process is well underway. This year, we were aiming for 30 tonnes (but) the chances are we will achieve 35 tonnes.
“We will definitely achieve over 40 tonnes next year, and it’s not just a pipe dream, work is actually going on towards that,” said Minister Chitando.
He said for the US$12 billion mining revenues to be achieved, gold deliveries must top 100 tonnes by 2030.
Capacitation of small-scale miners through the Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDF) has significantly contributed to higher gold deliveries from a sector occasionally ridiculed for the rudimentary tools used and the lifestyles of the miners.
The RBZ has increased the GDF to US$150 million from US$74 million last year.
Minister Chitando also said the presence of a player who processes refractory gold, which, all along has not been processed, will also boost output.
Further, the launch of the first gold centre in Bubi, which is set to produce over 2 tonnes per year, is also expected to transform the gold sub-sector.
Four more gold centres are set to be rolled out by December 31st.
The return of asbestos
Minister Chitando said the asbestos sector is on the road to recovery, with some dumps being processed.
He said asbestos products manufacturer, Turnall Holdings Limited, is now obtaining raw materials from Shabani-Mashava Mines, saving the country the much needed foreign currency.
“I am sure you are aware of what is happening with asbestos. Turnall is no longer importing asbestos. It’s coming from the dumps.
“De-watering of Mashava Mine will be done by December (and) the mine will start producing in the first quarter next year. Shabani Mine will start producing by 2020.”
Shabani-Mashava Mines used to employ 5 000 employees and single-handedly drove the Zvishavane economy.
Its revival will create more jobs for citizens in Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Shurugwi and Masvingo.
Mimosa Mine currently employs the bulk of people in the areas surrounding Zvishavane.
Diamond sector primed to lead the way
The full weight of economic recovery has been thrust on the shoulders of the diamond sector since 2006 when the gems were discovered in Marange.
However, the sector has largely disappointed, particularly after stories of corporate malfeasance were unearthed at some of the mines.
But the sector’s 22 percent jump in the first eight months of this year suggests a turn of fortunes.
Said Minister Chitando: “Diamonds recorded 1,8 million carats last year (and) with US$400 million set aside for ZCDC (the Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company), we expect 12 million carats by 2022.