Govt iden­ti­fies four chrome smelt­ing cen­tres

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Love­more Zi­gara and Mun­yaradzi Musi­iwa Mid­lands Re­porter

THE Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment has iden­ti­fied four cen­tres along the Great Dyke, where it will set up smelt­ing plants as part of ef­forts to pro­mote Zim-As­set’s value ad­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion thrust.

One of the smelt­ing plants has been set up at Ma­panzure near Zvisha­vane and will be com­mis­sioned in Fe­bru­ary next year.

Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Deputy Min­is­ter, En­gi­neer Fred Moyo, said it is un­eco­nom­i­cal to ben­e­fi­ci­ate chrome cur­rently due to pro­hib­i­tive trans­port costs from min­ing ar­eas.

“We need to ben­e­fi­ci­ate our chrome but we were fail­ing to do so be­cause our smelters are lo­cated in the mid­dle of the coun­try on the dyke that is Kwekwe and Gweru. When you want to move chrome ore from Mberengwa to Gweru or Kwekwe, it is dif­fi­cult to get there be­cause of pro­hib­i­tive trans­port costs,” said Eng Moyo.

“We de­cided to di­rectly in­vest in Zvisha­vane and then al­low the ex­ploita­tion of this min­eral in Mberengwa, Zvisha­vane and Chivi. This is what cul­mi­nated in the smelter that we have put up in the Ma­panzure area. It will use (process) around 6 000 tonnes of chrome ore per month but we want that to go up four times, which means we will be re­quir­ing 30 000 tonnes per month,” he added.

He said the smelter will be op­er­a­tional in Fe­bru­ary and this will cre­ate at least 300 jobs di­rectly while 3 000 oth­ers will be cre­ated through other down­stream and re­lated in­dus­tries.

Eng Moyo said a chrome wash­ing plant will be es­tab­lished in Zvisha­vane in early Jan­uary be­fore other sim­i­lar plants are set up along the Great Dyke.

“In the next six weeks we will bring a wash­ing plant in Zvisha­vane to be able to re­ceive the ore to wash it be­fore it is fed into the plant. Mid next year we ex­pect more sim­i­lar in­vest­ments in the area again,” he added.

Short­ages of smelters in the coun­try have been hin­der­ing pro­duc­tion and growth in the chrome min­ing sec­tor.

The de­vel­op­ments come as the chrome sec­tor has been on a growth tra­jec­tory, which has seen the 400 000-tonne pro­duc­tion tar­get Govern­ment set at the be­gin­ning of the year be­ing sur­passed.

Mean­while, Shu­rugwi-based An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum Mine, Unki Mine’s plat­inum smelt­ing, is now at 40 per­cent of con­struc­tion. Jo­han­nes­burg Stock Ex­change-listed An­glo Amer­i­can Plat­inum (Am­plats), which wholly owns Unki Plat­inum Mine near Shu­rugwi, has bud­geted more than $62 mil­lion for a lo­cal smelter, as min­ers in the sec­tor brace for Govern­ment’s ban on un­pro­cessed min­eral ex­ports. Lo­cal pol­i­cy­mak­ers be­lieve the coun­try is not get­ting the max­i­mum value from its min­er­als as com­modi­ties are be­ing ex­ported in raw form to over­seas mar­kets. In 2014, Govern­ment gave the coun­try’s three big­gest plat­inum pro­duc­ers — Zim­plats, Mi­mosa and Unki — a Jan­uary 2018 dead­line to sub­mit pro­pos­als to build a pre­cious me­tals re­fin­ery.

The com­pany has taken heed of the Govern­ment’s call for value ad­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion.

“We are now at 40 per­cent of con­struc­tion. We started con­struct­ing the plant last year and we are hop­ing to com­plete the con­struc­tion as soon as pos­si­ble,” the com­pany said re­cently.

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