Nelson Gahadza Senior Business Reporter
The Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (CoMZ) says it supports the Government’s efforts to build a conducive and sustainable environment that promotes accelerated beneficiation in fledgling sub-sectors of mining, including platinum group metals (PGMs), diamond and lithium.
The COMZ is a private sector voluntary organisation established in 1939 by an Act of Parliament for the purpose of advancing interests of the mining industry in Zimbabwe.
Its activities are implemented through promotion of development and growth strategies consistent with high international standards of health safety and environmental consciousness with the ultimate objective being to positively influence the local business environment in order to attain the objectives of the mining industry.
Government has over the past five years been exploring possible methods of ensuring beneficiation of minerals, including through crafting policies targeting mostly platinum, diamond, gold and chrome mining in order to unlock the backward and forward linkages in the mining sector to create jobs.
Collins Chibafa, the CoMZ president told The Herald Finance & Business that the chamber supported the Government’s policy thrust on beneficiation of minerals to maximise benefits to the country.
“The country boasts of integrated beneficiation facilities for nickel, ferrochrome, and coal. For gold the country has a central smelting and refining facility in Fidelity Printers and Refiners. There are very bright prospects that the beneficiation of asbestos, iron ore, and copper will soon be re-activated,” he said.
Mr Chibafa said that significant progress had been posted in the PGMs sector with regards to setting up of beneficiation facilities.
He noted that two of the three PGM operations had already established smelting facilities. The Zimplats board of directors approved a US$521 million capital expenditure project to construct a new 38MW furnace and establish an acid plant for the abatement of sulphur dioxide generated by the smelter operations.
“The expanded smelter complex will have capacity for toll treatment of third-party material. The acid plant, in addition to reducing point-source sulphur dioxide emissions, will produce sulphuric acid — a vital feedstock in the manufacture of fertiliser,” he said.
He added that Zimplats would also establish a base metal refinery to further beneficiate converter matte at a cost of US$100 million. In the lithium sector, Mr Chibafa said commitments had been made to process ore up the value chain, while in diamonds a quarter had been set for local cutting and polishing of locally produced diamond.
The Government recently said it was satisfied with progress made by mining sector players towards mineral beneficiation in line with the target to build a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
It is estimated that while Zimbabwe could produce up to 25 percent of the world’s supply in diamonds, it has not made much by way of foreign currency earnings. If Zimbabwe adopts diamond beneficiation, the country stands to earn over US$8 billion annually and create 200 000 jobs.