Government will not issue permits for chrome ore exports as its focus is currently on value addition and beneficiation of minerals, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo said. Deputy Minister Moyo was responding to an enquiry on Friday by The Herald Business on the fate of applications for chrome ore export licences lodged by Meikles Centar Mining and Zimasco.
The deputy minister acknowledged the two companies had made applications, but said the efforts were unlikely to succeed as Government was currently pushing for value addition and beneficiation.
“They have applied for licences to export chrome ore, but we have not given them permits. Government focus at the moment is on value addition and beneficiation of minerals,” the deputy minister said.
“We cannot be talking of value addition and beneficiation on one hand and at the same time issue licences for chrome ore exports,” he said.
Deputy Minister Moyo said the country had redundant chrome refineries in Chegutu, Kadoma and Kwekwe and it would be more beneficial if focus went to their revival to add value to the mineral.
Government is focusing on adding value to minerals to optmise returns from exports of the extractive resources amid growing reservations that the country is not getting what is due to it from minerals.
Meanwhile, Government has issued four exclusive prospecting orders and eight special grants to various investors in a bid to encourage investment towards exploration for new mineral deposits.
According to notices in a Government gazette published last Friday, the EPOs and SGs were issued for mineral prospecting in the mining districts of Bulawayo, Gweru, Kadoma and Masvingo.
Two of the EPOs were issued to H.N Gumbo and Associates Limited and the other two went to Krumlin Mining and Unified Earth Resources. The exploration titles are valid for a period of three years.
SGs were extended to Omega Coal Distributors, Stanppro Enterprises, Fishrake Investments, Rockrabbit Investments, Waxcrew Investments, Rateskin Investments and Adelstein Investments. The special exploration grants have a similar three-year tenure as the EPOs.
An exploration licence is a mining title granted to prospective investors to scour for potential mining deposits over a defined large area. They are usually given for three years but may be extended.
Special grants are another form of a mining title granted to potential investors to prospect for energy minerals over specific defined areas, but may now be issued for other minerals.
Exploration licences, which give investors the right to peg and explore for minerals compel beneficiaries to lodge periodic updates with Government on the findings from their exploration activities.
Until recently Government was not issuing exploration titles. As such, there was little exploration since 2000. Government has started issuing new titles and renewing eligible ones that expired.
Mining industry analysts said it was critical that Government issues exploration licences to allow fit and proper companies with the requisite financial resources to explore for new mineral deposits.
A former Chamber of Mines executive who heads a local mining company said on Friday, “Since 2000, little exploration has been happening in the country. If there is no exploration, no new mining areas will be discovered and in the future we may run out somewhere to mine.”
The analysts said if little investment was going into exploration for new deposits, at some point in the future the country would have no reserves to exploit after the current stock of known reserves run out. Such a scenario would not augur well for purposes of growing the economy, especially when Government has identified mining as the centrepiece of economic growth in the short- to medium-term.
Minerals account for about 16 percent of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product and over 50 percent of the country’s export earnings.
Zimbabwe has potential to use mining to significantly grow its economy considering the country is blessed with over 40 different mineral occurrences including gold, platinum and diamonds.
The country has potential to supply about 25 percent of diamonds traded on global markets annual and has the second biggest known deposits of platinum after neighbouring South Africa.