SINCE Independence, the Ministry of Mines has made a careful study of the industry, directed at the identification of areas in which changes can be made to the benefit of Zimbabwe.
The result has been delineation of transformative objectives and strategies.
A major objective is to increase Zimbabwean control and participation. In part, this has been achieved by the 1982 establishment of the country’s Minerals Marketing Corporation.
The corporation, established by an Act of Parliament, is now the sole agent for the disposal of all mineral output.
A further corporation, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, is being created as a vehicle for State participation in the mining industry.
In December 1982, the State announced a 40 percent equity participation in the country’s only producing colliery — the Wankie Colliery Company.
Plans are also underway for additional State participation in other strategic mining ventures.
Further progress in the transformative process was hampered and 1982 being the worst mining year in recent history.
Prices for most metals and minerals were at an all-time low, and demand was very weak.
In consequence, producers had to borrow very heavily-at high interest rates-to finance stockpile in order to sustain operations.
LESSONS FOR TODAY
The mining industry continues to grow and remains a major foreign currency earner alongside agriculture.
Government aims to build a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, and the discovery of oil and gas in the Zambezi Valley is a welcome shot in the arm for this goal.
Despite the Covid-19 challenges, there is excitement among gold producers to ensure that output is enhanced.
If the mining industry is able to produce so much, the plight from the people is that there is a trickle-down effect, so that everyone benefits from the country’s rich mineral resources.
However, the complexity of mining and its interacting factors make it inevitable that transformation of the sector is a slow, but sure process.
Mining is a high-risk and capital-intensive business, which requires considerable care in the imposition of meaningful transformation measures.