Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
MAXIMISING mineral beneficiation and creating economic linkages is critical to driving Zimbabwe towards achieving middle income status by 2030, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, said in Bulawayo yesterday.
Under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe has set a vision to achieve a middle income economy by 2030.
In his key note address at the Mine Entra conference which ends in Bulawayo today, Minister Chitando said given the strategic contribution of mining to the economy, mineral beneficiation was a vital cog.
“Yes, there is growth in the mining sector, maximising the beneficiation of mineral resources and creating economic linkages is vital. Whatever the number of minerals that Zimbabwe is endowed with, those minerals are of no use if they are underground,” he said.
“What we would like to see is those minerals being extracted and beneficiated and having an effect on the linkages in industry for economic development of our country.”
Last year the gold sector generated revenues amounting to $2,7 billion and Government targets over $12 billion in revenue by 2023.
“This growth is limited to mineral sales revenue and does not touch on the effects on downstream industries. Some of the minerals on this horizon of growth, which will contribute to this increase, include gold, lithium, platinum and diamonds,” said Chitando.
Zimbabwe produced 24 tonnes of gold in 2017 and by end of last month output was around 28 tonnes with the country poised to reach 35 tonnes by December.
Minister Chitando said a number of initiatives were being executed to enable continued growth trajectory in the gold sub sector. He, however, said capital constraints remain a major hurdle but investor appetite remains very high with more international and local investors seeking a share of the mining pie.
Minister Chitando said there was also a potential foreign investor coming into the country next week with a $50 million outlay to invest in the gold sector. On lithium, he said, the country has four active projects and Government will be working in overdrive to ensure the growth of the sector.
Minister Chitando said existing platinum producers were carrying out capital expenditure programmes in areas such as expansion, and boosting smelting capacity. There are also new players seeking to invest in platinum and a similar drive is noticeable on diamonds.
Last year the diamond sector produced 1,8 million carats and this year over three million carats are projected.
It is envisaged that by 2022, Zimbabwe will be producing over 10 million carats annually. Minister Chitando revealed that Zimbabwe was also focused on producing stainless steel. — @okazunga