13 Dec 2019
The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has forecast 9% growth in mineral exports for 2019, not including silver and gold, to roughly US$1.8 billion, compared to the same time last year.
Foreign currency generation in Zimbabwe relies heavily on the expansion of mineral exports. Zimbabwe, an import-dependent economy, requires significant hard currency in order to import fuel, electricity, key raw materials and medicines among others.
Aside from contributing to over 60% of the country’s foreign exchange, mining is also beneficial to Zimbabwe as the industry employs over 45,000 workers directly, and is also one of the main pillars of short to medium-term economic growth.
The landlocked country in southern Africa is looking to expand its mining sector from US$3.8 billion, to a US$12 billion industry by 2023, pivotal for the country’s goal of attaining middle income status by 2030.
Last year, Zimbabwe succeeded in gathering US$1.65 billion from the export of minerals, not including gold and silver whose marketing is classified within the limits of Fidelity Printers and Refineries (FPR), a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The total for 2019 is now estimated to reach US$1.8 billion, with figures from the State minerals marketer revealing that the first 10 months of the year reeled in US$1.59 billion, representing a 12.7% expansion compared to the same time the previous year.
“From our projections, I think we will end the year 9% better than we managed last year,” said MMCZ general manager Tongai Muzenda.
"This rise can be attributed to better prices particularly for PGMs, which have been higher this year compared to last year.
"We have also made some strides on the beneficiation front and I think the commissioning of the Unki smelter is one such highlight as well as the increase in our ferrochrome exports," he added.
The MMCZ chief also noted that the rise should be viewed with the power outages that battered the economy this year in mind. Load shedding was operating for up to 16 hours in some cases, due to the outages.
Muzenda said that if it were not for the power cuts, the growth would be much higher than it currently is, as miners continue to operate in line with the government’s call to hike minieral export earning towards the US$12 billion per year by 2023.
"So as you look at this year's figures, you must also remember the crippling power challenges which affected the mining sector all year round," said Mr Muzenda.
"Had we not faced these power challenges, we definitely would have been talking about a huge jump in our exports," he said.