Zimbabwe has a significant resource in the chromium sector, with the world’s second largest reserve of chrome and as such the reserves are to be utilized to help in reviving the country’s economy.
By Mirirai Ngoya
Zimbabwe is playing an important role in the chromium industry and will provide an opportunity to promote Zimbabwe’s rich mineral resources and also an opportunity for development and an attraction to many investors in Zimbabwe’s Mining sector. Minister of mines and mining development indicated that “Zimbabwe holds the world’s second largest chrome ore resource of 900 million tonnes at approximately 12 per cent with South Africa leading the pack. Global resources are estimated at 7, 5 billion tonnes. However, more exploration is required to upgrade the resource.”
“Based on 2018 statistics, Zimbabwe produced an estimated 1,358 million tonnes of ore, against the world total of 33, 7 million tonnes. From those figures, you can see that we accounted for 4 per cent of global output.”
Despite being a significant holder of global chromite resources, Zimbabwe’s contribution to total global production of chromite ore has been at best 5 per cent which shows its greatest impact on the world’s production.
Besides being a major player in the world’s chrome production, “since 2001, Zimbabwean chrome ore output had been decreasing in line with decreasing output of ferrochrome.” Said Mr Chitando.
But however, “Following the lifting of the ban on the export of chrome ore by the Government, chrome ore output, has increased exponentially from the all-time low figure of 186 000 tonnes in 2015 to approximately 1,358 million tonnes in 2018. Total exports of chrome ore during 2018 are estimated at 739 000 tonnes.”
That is from this we are looking forward towards achieving great deals to benefit the country.
There is huge potential for the country to increase its Ferrochrome production as over the last few years the nation has been witnessing decreasing ferrochrome production.
However, “2018 production was around 350 000 tonnes, which shows the country’s new capacity being commissioned and led to a 20 per cent increase of Ferrochrome production capacity to 418 000 tonnes in 2019.”
Most of the smelting technology in the country is old and there is a need to invest in new technology, especially technology that can process fines.
Some of the producers have plans to install fines agglomeration technology so that they can take advantage of the chromite fine resource, which accounts for approximately 40 per cent of the country’s chromite ore resource. New technology will also improve smelting efficiencies, thereby, improve the viability of the industry.
Further expansions will see a Zimbabwe ferrochrome capacity increase to at least 956 000 tonnes by 2022. Therefore, there is a need for significant investment in developing the mining capacity of the country from exploration through to production.
In line with Government’s vision for the country to achieve middle-class status by 2030, Zimbabwe has a clear vision of seeing at least 2 million tonnes of carbon and stainless steel, of which one of the key ingredients is ferrochrome, being produced in the country within the next few years.