Zimbabwe needs to further beneficiate and value add minerals in order to derive maximum benefits from its precious resource as well as achieve sustainable growth in line with the Africa Mining Vision’s (AMV) objectives.
The region, and Zimbabwe in particular is endowed with vast mineral resources, accounting for instance the second largest chrome reserves in the world after South Africa.
But, there hasn’t been much to show for it, especially the surrounding communities that still live in poverty as resources have been exported mainly as ores and concentrates without much value addition.
One of the objectives of the AMV is to ensure Africa gets maximum benefits from the rich mineral wealth it holds.
In Zimbabwe, Government has emphasised on value addition and beneficiation as opposed to exporting minerals in their raw form.
That way, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura said, will ensure more jobs are created as well as more foreign currency earnings.
“Africa mining vision says that we should mine resource sustainably, there should be equitable distribution of mineral resources with the community,” he said in an interview in Gweru recently.
“One thing important to note is that we are surrounded by great wealth but most of the communities are in deep poverty.
“We need to know exactly the resources that we have because sometimes we negotiate contracts for what we really don’t know and in the end it benefits their own countries at the expense of the local communities.
“In line with this, there is need to beneficiate, come up with policies that make it a requirement to value add the resources and then export raw minerals,” he said.
According to the AMV, after gaining independence, most African countries made little progress to integrate their mineral wealth with their economies with the exception of a few due to partly global price fluctuations as well as policies that were not favourable to the region.
However, rising demand from China and the rest of Asia created hope for the region to start benefiting from the mineral resources and this needed an AMV and strategies to implement and achieve this turnaround.
From the AMV, the mining sector is seen as a key enabler for economic upturn as it should catalyse broad-based growth and development in the region as it is expected to support the Africa’s industrialisation agenda.
Among the key areas of opportunities to support this are resource rents, which is “the use of resource differential and windfall rents to improve the basic physical and knowledge infrastructure of the nation through investment in physical infrastructure and social and human infrastructure”.
Another key aspect is downstream and upstream value addition that is to establish resource-processing industries that could then provide the feedstock for manufacturing and industrialisation.
That way, the region will benefit in more jobs, improved infrastructure while products will fetch more foreign currency as opposed to ore exports.
“Africa needs to stop being a source of raw materials to a source of value added, beneficiated products. We need to manufacture and export finished goods.
“For instance, what is happening here with chrome smelters, at this point we export law carbon ferrochrome, high carbon ferrochrome, ferrosilicon but we need to beneficiate further into stainless steel and stainless steel products, we need to get maximum benefits for our products,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
Government has emphasised to mining companies to value add and beneficiate.
It has encouraged mining firms to establish refineries in the country and proposed a 15 percent tax on raw platinum exports in 2013.
This is expected to promote value addition, job creation and more foreign currency from export of processed minerals as opposed to their raw format.