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09/06/2015 00:00:00
by Reuters
 
 
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ZIMBABWE has temporarily lifted a ban on raw chrome exports introduced four years ago and scrapped a 20 percent export tax on the metal, the mines minister said on Tuesday, aiming to boost earnings from a struggling sector.

Zimbabwe, which holds the second largest chrome ore reserves after South Africa, banned the export of raw chrome in April 2011, urging mining companies to process the metal locally but many firms have been forced to close, citing a lack of smelting capacity, high production costs and power shortages.

"It is hoped that the temporary lifting of the ban on chrome ore exports should generate additional foreign currency," Walter Chidhakwa told reporters.

Chidhakwa also said royalties on chrome - which is smelted to produce ferrochrome, a raw material used in the making stainless steel - would rise to 5 percent from 2 percent.

President Robert Mugabe has been pushing chrome mining companies to process the ore into ferrochrome. Zimbabwe has stockpiled 77,000 tonnes of chrome ore since the ban.

Output of chrome fell 45 percent to 57,290 tonnes in the first three months of 2015 versus the same period last year, the mining chamber in the southern African country has said.

Chidhakwa said his government will cut electricity tariffs for chrome mines to 6.7 U.S. cents per kilowatt from 8 cents, to stimulate investment in the shrinking sector.

In 2014 Zimbabwe produced 260,000 tonnes of high-carbon ferrochrome, which was 2.3 percent of global output. Zimasco, part of China's Sinosteel Corporation Ltd, produced 68 percent of Zimbabwe's ferrochrome in 2014.



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