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16 May 12 Chrome ban to be lifted

Chrome ore exports were banned in April last year to promote value addition and boost revenues on government coffers.

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu on Monday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that the government was under pressure to make a U-turn on the policy.

He singled out mining firms like Zimasco for paying low prices on chrome ore extracted on their behalf.

These people (small-scale miners) are like employees of Zimasco. It is Zimasco which determines the price and processes and semi-processes the chrome. We are under pressure to allow raw exports (of chrome) just to empower our people for a given period because of the actions of Zimasco and others, said Mpofu.

The minister added that the government was also considering granting chrome claims held by large mining firms to small-scale miners.

We are also, as a ministry, looking at even cancelling the tributing of these claims by certain big organisations and allow our people to mine those claims and sell that chrome to whoever they want to at competitive prices.

This can only be done if companies like Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys) are fully operational, he added.
Last year, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, an organisation representing mainly small-to- medium-scale miners, urged the government to lift the export ban on chrome arguing the decision had resulted in job cuts in the sector.

Fast-growing economies like China and Brazil have been the major source markets of ferrochrome minerals currently in demand. Zimbabwe has large ore deposits found on the Great Dyke, a linear geological feature that runs nearly north-south through the centre of Zimbabwe passing just to the west of the capital.

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