Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy Report on Chrome Mining Sector in Zimbabwe 2013

1. Introduction

The portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy conducted an enquiry into the Chrome sector from the period 2011 to 2013, in accordance with Standing Order 160.  Chrome mining has the potential to make meaningful contribution to the growth of the economy through revenue generation and employment creation. For the period 2009 to 2011, the sector made exports worth US$53,6 million from an average production of about 500 000 tonnes per year. However in 2013, the sector is anticipated to experience restricted growth with an expected annual production level of only 282 000 tonnes against a maximum potential of 750 000 tonnes a year.  As a result there would be low revenue inflows to Treasury as well as job losses.

The enquiry by the Committee  revealed an array of challenges inhibiting the growth of this sector which include: an unevenly balanced claims structure, unfavourable prices of chrome both on the local and international markets, lack of investment into the sector, the disempowerment of  mining communities, negative impact of high  electricity tariffs and shortages, conflicts between farmers and miners over land, massive environmental degradation by small-scale chrome miners as well as huge unsaleable stoke piles of chrome dotted around the country following the ban of chrome exports by government in 2011. 

2. Background Information

Chrome is an important base metal mainly used in the stainless steel industry.  Currently, the product is on demand in Asia, particularly in China and Singapore.  Africa has the largest ore reserves in the world and it is estimated that Zimbabwe and South Africa have more than 80% of the world's ore reserves. Chrome mining in Zimbabwe is mainly concentrated on the Great Dyke and it is estimated that the Dyke hosts about 10 billion tones of unproven reserves. Most of the chrome claims are located in Mutorashanga, Chegutu, Kadoma, Kwekwe and Lalapanzi.   Despite the huge deposits  of proven and unproven reserves in the ground, the country is not recognised as a significant producer on the world market, an indication that the country is failing to fully exploit this mineral to its advantage as shown in the table below;

Country

Proven Resource

World Rank

Output (Production)

World Rank

South Africa

72.7.%

1

39.3.%

1

Zimbabwe

13.2.%

2

2.0.%

6

Kazakhstan

4.2.%

3

14.8.%

2

India

0.9.%

5

16.0.%

3

Finland

1.6.%

4

2.5.%

7

Brazil

0.8.%

6

3.3.%

8

Turkey

0.3.%

7

 

5

Other Countries (Oman, Iran, Turkey and Albania

7.1.%

8

22.1.%

4

Total

100..%

 

100..%

 

Table 1:  World Chrome Resources [Source: International Chromium Development Association (ICDA)]

Currently, the sector employs about 2 865 people and it is has the potential to employ over 7 000 people in a conducive environment.

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