THE steel manufacturing sector has welcomed Government's decision to ban export of chrome ore saying this will assist local players to secure ferrochrome for their operations at competitive prices.
The banning of chrome ore and chrome concentrate follows a Cabinet resolution that was made in August last year. The former is already effective while the later will be effective in July 2022.
Announcing the policy shift, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Musvangwa, last week said the ban on the chrome ore exportation would capacitate current smelters and maximise the value chain to be realised from the country's abundant resources as spelt out in the National Development Strategy 1.
Institute of Zimbabwe Foundries (ZIF) president, Itai Zaba, said the Government's bold stance was crucial for the metal foundry industry, which was facing challenges in securing inputs at affordable rates.
"Zimbabwe foundries will be able to get all grades of ferrochrome at better prices as opposed to current high import cost," he said.
"This means we will lower our cost of production and make our products cheaper on the market."
This is also for the need of safeguarding the ferrochrome industry including metallurgical processes such as steel manufacturing.
As such, Mr Zaba said the ban will promote beneficiation of chrome ore, which will promote industrial growth, employment creation and technology transfer to the country.
He said the ban will not benefit the foundry family alone but downstream suppliers.
"Beneficiation will promote industrial growth via setting up of new plants and this will bring about the much-needed employment and also bring about technology transfer to Zimbabwe," added Mr Zaba.
"Also, the value chain cannot be closed in at the foundry alone, it goes far to various suppliers in services, chemical, gas, fuel, power, construction, banking and Zimra who will find opportunity to do business in the foundry and chrome beneficiation sectors.
"So, one should never be blinkered like a horse to only see the foundry industry in this equation, it's a big net of benefits to the nation."
Also commenting on the issue, chairperson of the Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Edmond Mkaratigwa, said the directive given by the Government was in the national interest.
"The Government has banned the export of chrome ore.
"This will bring long term benefits to the country, which will be seen soon as the decision was made at the interest of the people of Zimbabwe," said Mr Mkaratigwa.
"Market monitoring is important as returns are the main considerations in all business endeavourers.
"And this ban was done after determining the cost and benefits analysis of available options to the country and its citizens.
"There were challenges around returns from the sales of these primary resources relative to benefits and to its implicated citizens.
"These are the matters we need to consider," he said.
Under vision 2030, President Mnangagwa's administration has identified the mining sector as a key player towards realising an upper-middle income economy.