Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWEâS value of mineral production fell last year due to softening global prices of gold, platinum and coal, according to latest statistics from the Chamber of Mines.
The value of output declined to $1,85 billion from $1,97 billion a year earlier, despite output growth registered in key minerals. The value of gold was $614,3 million from $626,1 million in 2013 despite increase in production to 15,3 from 14 tonnes.
Last year, average gold price was $1 267 per ounce. About 12,5 tonnes of platinum valued at $495,36 million were produced in 2014 from 13,7 tonnes worth $554 million in 2013.
The value of coal declined to $41,2 million from $171,48 million in 2013.
Similarly, production fell to 2,74 million tonnes from 5 million tonnes.
Nickel production rose to 16,6 tonnes last year from 14 tonnes a year earlier. Its value rose to $202,4 million from $158 million.
Chrome production also increased to 373 031 tonnes from 355 142 tonnes but revenue was almost flat at $36,6 million.
High Carbon Ferrochrome production rose to 153 164 tonnes from 129 553 tonnes while output value increased to $144,5 million from $127 million in the prior year.
Last year, the mining sector registered a decline of minus 2 percent due to low prices, according to the Finance Ministry.
The output is expected to rebound in the medium term, due to the envisaged successful completion of the merger and consolidation exercise in the diamond sector, as well as finalisation of the Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act and the new mining fiscal regime, the Government said.
This year, a moderate growth of 3,1 percent is expected, driven by nickel, gold, chrome and coal. Capital injections by gold miners, rebound in international prices and production ramp-up at Freda Rebecca Mine will support higher gold output in 2015.
Further, the registration and licencing of custom millers and gold buying centres across the country is expected to plug gold leakages, resulting to improved gold deliveries.
Platinum output is, however, projected to remain unchanged this year due to low prices.
The diamond industry is set to benefit from the transition from alluvial diamond mining to conglomerates at Marange diamond fields. The consolidation of diamond companies in Marange will also result in a streamlined system which will be easier to manage.
Nickel output for 2015 is projected at 17 000 tonnes, mainly from increased production at Bindura Nickel Corporation and strong nickel prices.
Nickel prices have benefited from a reduction in global supply following Indonesiaâs pursuit of its value addition strategy, banning export of unprocessed nickel, a policy that Zimbabwe is also pursuing.
In the medium term, nickel output should also benefit from the resuscitation of the matte smelter refinery in first quarter.
Under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation, the blueprint places emphasis on beneficiation of minerals to help mitigate challenges that may arise from softening of international mineral prices.