Zimbabwe said Thursday it is focusing to dramatically increase chrome metal creation to 550,000 tons in 2017 in the wake of gaining abundance arrive from the nation’s greatest chrome digger Zimasco.
Zimasco is a unit of China’s Sinosteel Corporation and has been confronting practicality challenges lately because of quelled global chrome costs.
The country produced 284,943 tons of chrome ore last year.
Following negotiations with government, Zimasco last year ceded 50 percent of its claims which will be re-distributed to various beneficiaries including small scale miners, medium scale beneficiation plants and new smelters.
The claims amount to 21,270 hectares, and it is from these that the government expects to boost chrome ore production.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa was quoted by state-run news agency New Ziana as saying that the re-distribution of the idle claims had been motivated by the need to broaden indigenous participation in the sub-sector to increase revenue generating for the country.
“We expect that some 550,000 tons of chrome ore will be exported,” he was quoted as saying.
He said high carbon ferrochrome production was also expected to increase to 300,000 tons from 149,000 tons mined last year.
High carbon ferrochrome is derived from smelted chrome ore.
Chidhakwa said expectations were that Zimasco and Afrochine would bring in more smelting capacity during the course of the year.
“We expect that Zimasco will do one or two more things on their slug dumps. We expect that the slug dumps at ZimAlloys will also be activated and we are therefore projecting 300,000 tons of high carbon ferrochrome in 2017,” he said.
He expressed concern that the government was losing out much needed revenue through export of raw chrome.
In 2016, the country earned 31 million U.S. dollars from the export of 284, 943 tons of raw chrome compared to 115 million realized through the export of 149,000 tons of high carbon ferrochrome, the minister said.
“My heart bleeds because when you look at the figures, you see the imperative for value addition,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government lifted a four-year ban on chrome ore exports in 2015, which it had imposed to encourage local benefication of the mineral.
Concentrated mainly along the Great Dyke, Zimbabwe’s chrome ore deposits are the second largest in the world after South Africa.