- August 24, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
Zimbabwe’s gold and platinum sectors have shown resilience to the Covid-19 pandemic operating at full capacity in the first six months of the year, an official has said.
Speaking during the 2020 MineEntra virtual meeting , the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) president Mrs. Elizabeth Nerwande-Chibanda said this was buoyed by the continued firming of platinum and gold prices on the international market.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic that was first detected in China last December, the deadly respiratory infection has plagued the entire world forcing countries to embark on national lockdown measures.
Consequently, the knock-on effect of the national lockdown measures has been an economic recession as governments sought to contain the spread of the deadly viral infection.
In the local mining sector, Mrs. Nerwande-Chibanda said the ferrochrome industry was the hardest hit during the period under review.
In May, the Zimbabwe chrome mining industry was reportedly operating at 10 percent capacity with leading producers such as Zimasco having shut-down operations.
“We have recorded significant declines during the last six months mostly on ferrochrome, smelters have gone under care and maintenance.
“But on the contrary, the platinum industry remains resilient operating at full capacity and we saw a boom in the prices of platinum and gold,” she said.
At present, Zimbabwe has three operational platinum mines namely Zimplats, Mimosa Mining Company, and Unki Mines.
Commenting on the overall performance of the mining sector during the period under review, Mrs. Nerwande-Chibanda, said the sector had been adversely affected as some companies had halted expansion projects.
The net effect of suspending expansion programs would be temporary layoffs of some of the workers in the mining industry,’ she said.
Mrs. Nerwande-Chibanda said as it was not conspicuous as to how long Covid-19 would exist, players in the mining sector ought to be content with the new normal.
She challenged players in the mining industry to embrace Information Communication Technology systems where necessary to lessen the challenges engendered by the invincible pandemic.
“For the past six months, we can almost say events have been unfolding at an astounding speed and this has totally changed our business and society in many ways.
“We have to re-arrange ourselves to remain in business and relevant to our operations,” she said.
“As the mining industry, one of the challenges we had, was to play a delicate balancing act in light of the Covid-19.
“On one hand, we wanted to continue with operations and to sustain national forex inflows on the other hand.”
Mrs. Nerwande-Chibanda said CoMZ was excited that the local mining sector was waived from the national lockdown as it was identified among the critical and essential services.
The mining industry is one of the major economic mainstays in Zimbabwe contributing 70% to the national export earnings.
“We are happy to say that we were allowed to continue to carry on with operations.
“But the slow down in the economic activity is on the back of widespread slow down worldwide and this has impacted quite negatively on the entire industry (mining).
“We have even seen supply chain disruptions as most companies depend on imported raw materials.
“There have been delays in deliveries. We all know that borders have closed here and there, factories have also been closed and there has been weak demand for some base metals copper, nickel and ferroalloys,” she said.
This article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of the Mining Zimbabwe Magazine