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05 Mar 12 Small Scale Chrome Miners Appeal To Zimbabwean Govt For Grace Period

05 Mac, 2012 15:39 PM

Small Scale Chrome Miners Appeal To Zimbabwean Govt For Grace Period


By: Ramjit


HARARE, March 5 (BERNAMA-NNN-NEW ZIANA) — As the impasse between the Zimbabwean government and small-scale chrome miners persists, the latter are appealing for a 36-month grace period to export stocks of the mineral which they have accumulated to enable them to raise capital to set up own smelters.

The government in April banned exports of raw chrome to force producers to invest in machinery which adds value to the mineral for the country to derive more benefit from it.

Experts say local value addition of chrome can create at least 2,000 jobs and generate US$3.8 million in fresh revenue for the fiscus.

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe estimates chrome output will increase to 3.5 million tonnes from 1.5 million tonnes last year.

Chrome producers are stuck with huge stocks of the mineral as a result of the ban.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) national chairman Edzayi Kufandarerwa said the situation was dire since the country only has one smelter at ZIMASCO.

“We have made representations to government to review the ban and give the chrome producers 36 months to export and establish their own smelters. The whole country cannot take chrome to ZIMASCO,” he said.

“ZIMASCO does not take all grades of raw chrome. They take only (chrome of a) certain quality which sometimes small-scale miners may not meet. If the chrome ore is kept for two long it will lose quality,” he said.

A smelting plant costs between US$300,000 and US$600,000 to build depending on size and quality of the equipment. Every 2,000 tonnes of chrome ore can generate close to US$1.0 million worth of metal when exported in processed form compared with just about US$240,000 when exported raw.

Kufandarerwa urged the government to seriously consider the federation’s position.

“Close to 80 per cent of the miners have contractual agreements with clients beyond the borders where they are now being sued for breaching these agreements,” he said.

“This grace period will allow miners to up production, boost revenue earnings for the miners and the country. During this period those who cannot afford to have individual smelters will form syndicates to acquire smelters.”

ZIMASCO is allegedly taking advantage of the situation to fleece miners through offering low prices for their chrome.


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