Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE mining sector generated US$1,1 billion in the first seven months of 2019 against a projected target of US$1,2 billion, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has said.
MMCZ, which falls under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, is an exclusive agent for marketing and selling of minerals produced in Zimbabwe except silver and gold.
MMCZ general manager, Mr Tongai Muzenda, said mineral earnings for the period under review slightly missed the target due to a number of challenges bedeviling the mining sector.
“Total sales for the period January 2019 to July 31 were $1,067 billion compared to $910 million during the comparable period last year,” he said in a telephone interview.
“Mineral earnings for the period January to July this year were off our target of $1,27 billion with the biggest challenge being the prevailing power cuts facing the mining sector and the country at large. Power cuts deter production.
“For example, the chrome industry furnaces are experiencing a lot of downtime due to power cuts and this puts a dent on ferrochrome production,” said Mr Muzenda.
While the mining sector contributes significantly to Zimbabwe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said the fluctuating global mineral prices were also threatening the growth of the sector.
“While fuel and electricity supply challenges have a negative impact on mineral production, it is also the fluctuation in global mineral prices that continues to dent mineral earnings for the country.
“Internally, as MMCZ we continue to lobby the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on behalf of the mining industry players to allocate resources to ensure adequate fuel supply in the market,” said Mr Muzenda.
“We also hope that going forward the country will improve power supply to boost production in the mining industry.”
Zimbabwe is endowed with vast mineral reserves among them gold, platinum, chrome, lithium, diamonds and coal.
This year, the country targets a 28 percent increase in mineral export earnings as the sector gears towards a Vision 2030 target of an annual haul of US$12 billion per annum by 2023. In 2018, Zimbabwe raked in US$3,2 billion from mineral exports and this year Government has set the target at US$4,2 billion.
Vision 2030 was set by President Mnangagwa as an anchor for economic revival to an upper middle-income economy status. Gold is expected to play a key role towards the attainment of this year’s target as Government has projected this year’s deliveries at 40 tonnes up from 33,2 tonnes delivered to the country’s sole gold-buying entity, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Diamonds are also expected to play a key role in the attainment of this year’s target and state miner, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, is running with a target of 4,1 million carats for the year, up from 2,8 million carats mined last year.
Government is also pinning increased output from operationalising Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s assets most of which are lying dormant due to a variety of reasons. These include debilitating legacy debts and lack of investment which the new political order is working to address under the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra. — @okazunga.