Obsolete machinery affecting chrome mining: Minister

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By Staff Reporter

MINES and Mining development Minister Winston Chitando has said redundant technology and obsolete machinery is greatly affecting the chrome mining sector in the country.

Speaking at the commissioning of a chrome plant at African Chrome Fields in Kwekwe Wednesday, Chitando said the fluctuation of prices has also greatly affected chrome production.

“Zimbabwe has a lot of chrome reserves which are mostly along the Great Dyke. Chrome needs to be extracted for the benefit of the country,” he said.

Chitando however indicated that the, “Chrome industry has always suffered in terms of competitiveness”.

“That competitiveness has mainly been affected to a larger extent by the technology in terms of extraction and beneficiation of chrome resources,” he said.

He said the non-performance of the commodity has been greatly affected by capacity.

“Firstly, underutilisation of the installed capacity and secondly insufficient capacity commensurate with the level of the resource has greatly affected the competitiveness of chrome.

“If we look at furnaces and the level of utilization, it is not commensurate with the resources,” he said.

Chrome yields are far from what is expected of the country due to obsolete equipment.

“The expense of the mineralisation, the extraction and value addition facility you also then can see that the level of processing facilities is far below for Zimbabwe to adequately extract and value add these chrome resources,” said the minister.

Chitando further explained that viability has been a serious challenge for chrome.

“One of the principle challenges has been the issue of availability. Mainly because the prices fluctuate than other minerals,” he said.

The biggest disadvantage which Chitando highlighted was that government does not determine the prices.

“The prices of ferrochrome, the volatility is much higher than the price of other minerals. Generally, the chrome producers suffer when the prices fall. That’s why you find the volatility in the fluctuation of the prices of chrome products,” he said.

The Minister indicated that chrome mining is a capital intensive and a labour intensive enterprise.