- April 15, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
Small-scale miners in Zimbabwe are warming up to the idea of Copper mining after local businessman Shelton Lucas introduced the idea on various mining platforms generating interest from hundreds of miners.
Miners WhatsApp groups were buzzing with activity with miners firing questions in order to get more informed of the mineral that we have in abundance but is almost not mined in Zimbabwe.
Mining Zimbabwe spoke to the businessman on how small scale miners can venture into copper mining and ways of overcoming challenges that are likely to be faced with the venture.
Lucas said, “Copper is a base mineral like Chrome and Manganese, so the cost of mining it lies within that same range. The cost of mining copper is cheaper as compared to other base minerals with specific respect to net realisation ratio of the value realized against the cost of extraction”.
“The equipment needed are excavators, dump trucks and front end loaders which small scale miners can always outsource through hiring and buying theirs after few cycles since its highly remunerative. A ton of copper ore can fetch an average of US$500 and after electro-refining can be inverted to US$4750 as of today”.
The success of any business venture rests on markets for one’s product. Gold mining is a resounding success because in mining areas Fidelity Printers and Refiners has branches and buying agents everywhere. The biggest question now will be the market for copper?
Lucas responded, “The market is very insatiable and because of Zimbabwe’s proximity to South Africa (which is the final destination) we have a comparative advantage over some players in Zambia and DRC. Copper requires highly specialized 7 stage purification and only South Africa has the facilities”.
“One of the market aspects is attributed to the security stability of Zimbabwe as a nation that the cargo is safe from hijacks since its prone to hijackers because of its relative value as a consignment”.
Advantages over Gold
“Copper has got an advantage over gold because of its quantitative approach rather than the qualitative” Lucas explained, “If you mine a ton of copper from the same strike you are guaranteed of money as opposed to gold. Gold is a bit dicey and dichotomical. Copper is mostly mined open cast and in some few instances underground”.
How the government can assist
The government should help small scale miners by arranging an equipment buying scheme. They can do this through the Mines and Mining Development Ministry were there are lot of geologists seating in offices who can evaluate the potential of the aforementioned mines and guarantee those loans. The Government can also build beneficiation plants for the 7 stage processing after mining to electro-refining in the worst-case scenario or arrange the processing plants of some non-working mines like Mhangura to be open to the small scale miners for beneficiation.
There are over 70 known deposits in Zimbabwe that have produced copper either as a primary or secondary product. The main producing area has been the Magondi Basin in an area stretching for over 150km. Similar copper deposits are found in the southeastern part of the country in the Umkondo Basin. Several copper prospects also occur in hydrothermal deposits in Archaean Greenstone Belts and in granite e.g. Inyathi, Copper duke. Primary copper production virtually ceased following the closure of Mhangura, now being produced as a by-product of other minerals e.g. PGM, Gold, Nickel.
Locations found are Makonde, Kadoma, Mutare, Chirumanzu, Chegutu, Kwekwe, Shurugwi, Beitbridge, Gokwe, Bindura, Chipinge, Bikita, Insiza, Mhangura, Harare, Bulawayo, Shamva, Chiredzi, Nkayi, Mudzi, Chegutu, Bindura, Kwekwe, Hurungwe, Bubi, Makonde, Bikita, Gwanda, Masvingo.