Chrome miners cry foul over poor prices

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HARARE: Small-scale miners have raised concerns over poor chrome prices offered by state-owned, entities Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Applebridge, which they say are not in line with international market prices.
The chrome prices in Zimbabwe are determined by government through, Applebridge an entity to which small scale miners sell their mineral.
Applebridge was formed by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development last year and enjoys the monopoly of purchasing chrome from the small-scale miners.
The government firm buys chrome at $80 per tonne compared to about $2,400 per tonne internationally.
“To date Zimbabwean small scale chrome miners continue to be adversely affected by the current pricing structure implemented by MMCZ/Applebridge. There is no resolve regarding the use of world market prices; in fact at the last discussions, MMCZ and Applebridge flatly refused to operate on a world market price structure for chrome,” said the Confederation of Small-Scale Chrome Miners in a paper submitted to the Mines Ministry last week.
The miners want government to open the market and allow private buyers.
“By opening the market and pursuing a diverse strategy that allows small scale miners to effectively sell to both the export and local market, miners will grow operations, invest in efficiencies (lowering mining costs), and greatly increase mining output and creating reserves to investing in beneficiation thereby strengthening Zimbabwe’s economy,” the miners said.
Last year, Zimbabwe produced 284,943 tonnes of chrome, much lower than the peak of 750,000 tonnes in 2001.
“We are still moving very small tonnages compared to other chrome producers around the world. This fact alone admittedly shows the serious flaws with the MMCZ/Applebridge system. Our export numbers remain incredibly low for a country with the second largest chrome reserves in the world,” said the miners.
Zimbabwe has over 2,000 small scale chrome miners, of which 90 percent have contract mining agreements with Zimasco and ZimAlloys.Advertisement