Zim mineral output increases

ZIMBABWE’S mineral output increased in February 2013, with platinum recording 1 219,61 kg from 1 007,59 kg in January, according to Chamber of Mines figures.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

The mining body’s monthly production statistics, quoted in Finance minister Tendai Biti’s March State of the Economy report, show copper output grew to 702,63 tonnes compared to 599,43 tonnes in January, while nickel output increased to 882,88t from 739,37t in January 2013.

Despite a ban on raw chrome exports, which is expected to be lifted in the first half of this year, chrome production rose to  11,142t in February, up from 9,223t prior month.

Coal production stood at 169,6t in February from 1612,7t in January, while  rhodium output was 103,38kg in February compared to 87,81kg in January.

However, gold production fell slightly to 1 066,3810kg from 1 088,4431kg in January and palladium also fell significantly to 422,63kg from 767,75kg.

Minerals continue to dominate the country’s exports, which amounted to US$689 million between January and March 15 this year, compared to US$768,2 million in the same period in 2012, a 10,3% decrease.

Of the US$689 million exported so far, mineral exports shipments accounted for 68,8%, followed by tobacco which accounted for 14,8% and manufacturing which accounted for 10,5%.

As at March 15 2013, Zimbabwe’s mineral exports stood at US$473,6 million, compared to US$510 million realised in the corresponding period in 2012 and representing a 7% decrease, according to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s computerised export payments exchange control system (CEPECS).

According to CEPECS, platinum dominated mineral exports with US$210 million, followed by gold at US$124 million and diamonds fetching US$113,7 million.

Gold exports are currently below expectationbecause the RBZ’s Fidelity Printers do not have enough money to buy the yellow metal from local producers.

As a result, a good amount of gold production, particularly from small scale miners, has found its way into neighbouring South Africa through illegal channels.

The total diamond exports for the month amounted to US$113,7 million, of which Mbada Diamonds had the highest export shipments of US$44,7 million, followed by Anjin Investments with US$30,4 million.

Diamond Mining Corporation exported produce worth US$18,4 million in January 2013 while DTZ OzGeo exported US$833 715 worth of diamonds followed by River Ranch Mine whose export shipments amounted to US$118 517 in the period under review.

Diamond revenues are also underperforming as the sector is shrouded in lack   of transparency.

Biti, in his March state of the economy address, said his department was working on a statutory instrument that would ensure government collects 50% of diamond revenues.

The minister indicated government was also crafting a piece of legislation meant to increase royalties, particularly on diamonds and platinum temporarily by an unspecified margin, to mobilise resources for the upcoming decisive election.