Small scale miners who account for a larger part of Zimbabwe's ferrochrome producers should more than double their production if they are to fully utilise the $1 billion stainless steel plant set to be built by a Chinese investor in the country, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said yesterday.
Minister Chitando revealed this at a meeting to welcome the new Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) executive led by Ms Henrietta Rushwaya that was ushered into office last month.
ZMF is the umbrella board representing small-scale miners and its membership now accounts for more than half of the country's gold deliveries as well as a substantial amount in chrome deliveries and other special minerals.
Minister Chitando is its patron.
Speaking at his first meeting with the ZMF executive in Harare, Minister Chitando said the new executive was coming at a time Government was putting more emphasis on small-scale mining ventures in its quest to boost mineral production across the country and revive the economy.
Minister Chitando said small-scale mining is key to Zimbabwe's overall mineral production as the country's geology entails that there are some mineral deposits that are not economically viable for mining by big conglomerates.
In ferrochrome, the minister said the country will soon have two million tonnes per year stainless steel plant built by a Chinese investor, Tsingshan, thus the country needs to up its production figures that stood at 320 000 tonnes last year.
"You are coming at a time when there is increased emphasis on the role of the artisanal and small-scale miner," said Minister Chitando.
"The nature of our geology is such that there are some deposits which are not amenable to extraction by large corporates. We do have deposits that the Anglos, the Rios the big entities, cannot go and mine.
"So for that reason, the small-scale miners play that key role to supplement the work that is being done by the big miners," he said.
Minister Chitando said it is imperative that the small-scale miners up their production figures in line with President Mnangagwa's vision 2030 to make Zimbabwe an upper middle income country, a vision he said needs maximum mineral utilisation to be achieved. The President has already declared the country's future economic development will be anchored by mining and agriculture.
"His Excellency has come up with that vision of Zimbabwe being a middle income economy by the year 2030. In support of that vision, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development is coming up with mineral specific milestones to be achieved in support of that vision and among them -- the first is ferrochrome," said the minister.
"If we look at the established capacity of ferrochrome producers you will be aware that Zimbabwe signed an MOU with Tsingshan a company from China for the establishment of a stainless steel plant.
"So we will be working with them to explore the modalities and possibilities of putting up a stainless steel plant. What that will mean is among other requirements, a $2 million stainless steel plant will require an annual input of 500 000 tonnes of ferrochrome.