ZIMBABWE will this year set up a metallurgical laboratory to determine the exact value and quality of mineral export shipments, particularly the platinum group of metals (PGMs), businessdigest can reveal.
By Tinashe Kairiza
The country is losing substantial amounts in potential revenue through smuggling across porous border points.
In 2015, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said Zimbabwe was being prejudiced up to US$1,8 billion annually through mineral smuggling.
Minerals account for half of the country’s annual export revenue, with gold and platinum accounting for half of total annual export earnings.
Gold alone accounted for more than 51% of the country’s export earnings between 2009 and 2014.
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) general manager Masimba Chandavengerwa said government will spend an estimated US$1,2 million to set up the metallurgical laboratory, as well as three weigh bridges to be established at key border points.
Currently, the bulk of PGM shipments are assayed in South Africa.
The three weigh bridges, to be constructed at an estimated cost of US$600 000, will be set up at Forbes, Nyamapanda and Chikwala border points.
Last month, MMCZ was quizzed by parliamentarians on the alleged smuggling of minerals to neighbouring countries.
“We want to determine the exact quality of minerals leaving the country. The final assaying is done in South Africa; it should be done in Zimbabwe.
“This year we will have this laboratory running. The laboratory will be used to certify exports leaving the country,” he said, noting that it was also imperative to invest towards setting up weigh bridges in key mining provinces.
Chandavengerwa said MMCZ was also investing towards installing tracking “software” that would be installed at key border points across the country.
“We are funding the installation of software at exit points working with the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID.) We want to hook our system onto their system so that they can relay information to MMCZ,” he said.
MMCZ, Chandavengerwa said, was also working with the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to build weigh bridges at exit points.
In 2016, former president Robert Mugabe revealed that mining firms operating in Chiadzwa had declared less than US$2 billion to Treasury despite earning a staggering US$15 billion in revenue. Experts, however, have disputed the figure given by Mugabe as earnings in diamond revenue.
Several reports have detailed the looting of Zimbabwe’s diamonds especially at Chiadzwa.
One such report, titled Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe Marange Diamond Fields, produced in November 2012 by the Toronto-based pressure group, Partnership Africa Canada, says diamonds worth US$2 billion had been looted since 2008.