Kudzanai Gerede Business Correspondent
The country is poised for major gains from a resurgent mining sector, which since beginning of the year has received massive capital injection from Government towards equipment, exploration and restructuring of gold, coal, diamond and chrome sub-sectors.
Buoyed by recoveries of commodity prices on the international market, Government has since made strides to prop up production output across the entire mining grid by nationalising the chrome sector to indigenous small-scale players, equipping artisanal gold miners, consolidating diamond and gold deliveries and recapitalising key mining concerns such as the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Hwange Colliery Company (HCC).
From a monthly production output of 30 000 tonnes last year, Hwange’s recapitalisation has seen output propel to 300 000 tonnes a month, while ZCDC’s 2017 half year performance was at 1,1 million carats against 690 000 carats realised same period last year. Government earlier this year injected US$80 million into ZCDC.
Going forward, the mining sector is expected to continue production on an upward trajectory with conglomerate diamond mining expected to commence before year-end while artisanal miners output continues to catch up with giant mining companies output.
Addressing Parliament last week, then Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa highlighted the significance of a resurgent mining sector with capacity to improve the country’s foreign currency earnings at a time proceeds from the just ended tobacco selling season have been exhausted.
“In the diamond sector, we capitalised ZCDC with US$80 million to put right their systems and also to import machinery appropriate for conglomerate mining. That machinery is arriving and we expect that in October, conglomerate mining can begin. By the end of the year, we are confident Mr Speaker Sir, that we would have exceeded last year’s diamond production this year.
“Coal production, through capitalising Hwange Colliery, we have been able to move coal production from a low of 30 000 tonnes per month to over 300 000 tonnes a month in August. Those who come from Hwange can see what is happening there,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said steps have been taken to reorganise the diamond sector and it was beginning to look up. Weekly reports on diamond production are submitted to Governemtn and all the diamonds were under the control of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and being treated in the same manner as gold.
In 2016 total mineral revenue was US$2 billion, and have been projected to a 5,1 percent increase by year end with figures for 2017 first half results showing a 23 percent rise to US$547 million from US$444.6 million last year same period.
Government efforts to support artisanal miners have seen their production output reach 1,5 tonnes to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in August 2017, which is the highest monthly delivery by this sector since independence.