Veteran miners in the Chrome sector are of the view that the sector has been constantly declining in production and
development. And therefore this has led to the sector being under looked and underrated which has made recent chrome miners unaware of the flourishing old times in the sector.
By Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga
There are two groups of chrome producers, those under Smelters (Tributors/Contractors) and independent
producers. It used to be independent producer’s obligation to select miners under a Tribute Agreement which was a tripartite arrangement among the tributor, smelter, and ministry of mines. This was the best arrangement which saw the chrome sector producing unquestionable volumes due to capital and operational support rendered by
the smelter. In this agreement, if any problems arise the ministry would step in.
Chrome is one of the minerals that is placed by the government as a strategic mineral therefore it is miners belief that the government should set aside capital to fund the sector. According to one veteran in chrome mining Martin Chitohwa, the common issue of funding and cash flows is rampant and effectively crippling the sector.
“I still wonder why the government positioned the mineral as strategic if not being funded. There is totally no access to capital. It’s long overdue otherwise what the meaning of making it a strategic mineral. Look at what is happening to the gold sector? Simply because it is funded, it is flourishing” said Chitohwa.
Experts are of the view that the government need to make smelters liable to fund there tributors/contractors and
make sure they utilise their chrome claims which they have been holding for many decades – fire up their smelters and meet their production quota. They believe that chrome miner’s claims should be heavily audited. According to one former worker.
“Zimasco surrendered 50% of their claims to the government but 40-45 of those are not viable to mine. And most of those were taken by none miners (companies & individuals) who do not even know the elements of the rock/mineral itself “she said.
ZMF should create chrome branch Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) is believed to have emphasized on gold shunning other sectors. Therefore it is miners’ belief that ZMF should have a subdivision or branch only responsible for the chrome sector (run a program or centre that looks into operational needs of the sector, lobby the government and investors for funding. This will help in reducing the heavy york ZMF have to lobby for the wishes of miners of different categories.
Experts are of the view that, lack of “infrastructure access” has become a big problem which is creating bottlenecks
in getting the mineral to market in many areas along the great dyke. If the government and smelters don’t push infrastructure development for now, they will have trouble accessing the mineral in the not so distant future. Therefore the government need to find a way to help the chrome sector revive flashing back to the yester age’s glories help miners build modern infrastructure and create a conducive environment for the miners to develop the sector into a super wonder.
Mining and smelting is energy (electricity) intensive and requires reliable, sustainable and efficient energy supplies. Use of generators has had interruptions in the supply of the product to market due to unavailability of fuel, generators breaking down and so on. Miners are of the view that Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) should create a partnership with miners.
This article first appeared in the Mining Zimbabwe magazine March 2019 issue