- August 26, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Zimbabwe is richly endowed with 60 different economically exploitable mineral resources including gold, diamonds, platinum group of metals (PGM), Lithium and graphite among others.
Beneficiation and value addition of minerals before export is one of the four key pillars of Zimbabwe’s goal to create value, employment and accelerated industrial development from its largely unexploited mineral resources.
Government has initially prioritized diamonds, chrome, PGM’s, nickel and coal bed methane and will utilize mineral sector and related industries to develop mining input industries and services.
However below is a list of products that Zimbabwe is importing where in real fact should be processing them locally through value addition and attain more value.
Zimbabwe is importing stainless steel from countries like China, USA and Turkey where in actual fact Zimbabwe is exporting raw chrome which is used in the production of stainless steel. The average chrome content in stainless steel is approximately 18 percent. It is also used when it is desired to add chromium to carbon steel.
If Zimbabwe add value to its chrome locally in addition to the iron ore deposits around the Chivhu area, the country should not be importing stainless steel but rather produce locally.
Zimbabwe is importing batteries from Western countries where in actual fact the Southern African country is one of the biggest producers of lithium in the world.
The discovery of extensive lithium deposits in the country, already adding to the more than 60 existing minerals, is a huge boon for Zimbabwe’s mining future outlook.
The transition to electric vehicles and adoption of electric power technologies is gaining momentum especially in the first world with major global car manufacturers such American automaker, Tesla becoming a household name in the production of electric vehicles.
Lithium is emerging as the most sought-after mineral in the manufacture of the common batteries which power these vehicles due to its high power to weight ratio which increases vehicle performance.
Therefore, the fact that Zimbabwe is one of the biggest producers of lithium, therefore provides an opportunity for Zimbabwe to process it locally and produce batteries. At the moment there is only one company manufacturing batteries, EXIDE Batteries.
Cancer treatment drugs
In certain chemical forms, platinum has the ability to slow or stop the division of living cells. Platinum-based drugs have been developed to treat a wide range of cancers.
The first platinum-based chemotherapy drug discovered by researchers was cisplatin, which forty years later continues to have applications in certain types of cancer. In that time, scientists have searched for ways to improve the anti-tumor efficacy of platinum-based drugs, reducing the toxicity profile, and strengthening them against resistance.
Therefore, Zimbabwe is importing cancer treatment material despite being the third largest producer of platinum in the world hence providing an opportunity for the Southern African country to value-add platinum. Cancer treatment remains big business across the world.
Electric copper cables
Zimbabwe is current a big importer of copper products for its power utility ZESA Holdings. This is despite Zimbabwe being endowed with rich deposits of copper in Mhangura and Sanyati areas in Mashonaland West. This therefore means if Zimbabwe could revive Mhangura and boost production in Sanyati and Alaska while also enhancing local processing this will cut a great deal into the copper import bill of the country.
Personal Hygiene products
In addition platinum-cured silicone mixtures are used in a range of personal care products from lipsticks and shampoos to contact lenses. Zimbabwe is importing a majority of these products where in actual fact should be processing locally.
Additionally, the use of silicones in medical elastomers is one that is showing strong growth going forward. For wound healing they have excellent properties, in that they will stick to dry skin, while not sticking to and damaging the wet wound. Silicones are also air and moisture permeable which improves the healing process.
Zimbabwe is still importing coal tar for roads construction despite the country being one of the biggest producers of coal in the world. Zimbabwe imports tar valued at around US$5 million annually. A lot needs to be done to invest in coal processing so that Zimbabwe stops it’s over reliance on imported tar at a time when the country has embarked on massive road construction projects.
Zimbabwe is importing gold jewellery like rings and neck chains. This is despite Zimbabwe having one of the biggest gold deposits in the world. The government has tried to come up with Aurex Jewelers to value add gold but the efforts have not been enough as individuals continue to import. There is need for a deliberate approach to liberalize value addition of gold so that the country doesn’t continue importing jewellery but rather licence also private players. The country stands to benefit from this.
The diamond fiasco between former first lady Grace Mugabe and Lebanese diamond tycoon Hussein Ahmed opened a can of works on Zimbabweans appetite for imported diamond products. Zimbabwe remains one of the countries in the world with the biggest diamond reserves. This therefore means Zimbabwe needs to value its diamonds and stop importing finished products like diamonds rings etc.
Dental and Surgical instruments
Zimbabwe is importing dental and surgical instruments where in actual fact it has large deposits of tantalite used for the manufacturing of these critical products. Tantalite is a rare, shiny, gray, dense metal. It is highly ductile and can be drawn into a thin wire.
Its chemical properties are very similar to those of niobium. Tantalum is highly corrosion resistant due to the formation of an oxide film. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity.
The metal has a melting point exceeded only by tungsten and rhenium. Tantalum is one of the five major refractory metals (metals with very high resistance to heat and wear).
Zimbabwe is importing phosphate fertilisers (compound D) from countries like Ukraine and Russia. This is despite the country possessing massive deposits of phosphate rock around the Dorowa area in Mashonaland East.
The most important use of phosphate rock, though, is in the production of phosphate fertilizers for agriculture. Virtually all common fertilizers have an “N-P-K” rating.
Phosphorus is the “P” in fertilizers. Phosphorus is involved in numerous plant functions, but its most important role is helping plants capture the sun’s energy and begin the photosynthesis process.
Despite the availability of phosphate rock, Zimbabwe is still importing Compound D.