WATCH: Mining sector boom breaks records
Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has said the country’s mining sector is registering unprecedented growth, for the first time in history, with earnings jumping to US$5,2 billion in 2021 from about US$2,9 billion in 2017 when the New Dispensation came into being, which is indicative of the positive gains realised from Government’s economic reform agenda.
Official statistics already indicate the sector is poised to clock US$8 billion in earnings by the end of the year, having surpassed the US$6 billion mark last month.
With such growth being achieved within a few years in the mining sector alone, the President said the stage is now set for the extractive sector to drive modernisation of the country’s economy through backward and forward linkages that stimulate localised production of the supply chain.
Officially opening the 25th Edition of the Mining, Engineering and Transport (Mine Entra) Conference in Bulawayo at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre, President Mnangagwa rallied industry players to ramp up production and embrace modern technology to scale up capacity and business competencies in line with global best practice.
Government has set an ambitious target for the mining sector to realise a US$12 billion milestone by 2023 and this, despite unforeseen shocks, remains certain, judging by the continued momentum across key subsectors, and the newly commissioned signature projects covering different mineral segments.
These include the expansion of Zimplats and Unki Mines, the re-opening of Eureka Gold Mine, Shamva Gold Mine, Rio-Zim Cam and Motor Biox Gold Plant Expansion Project, Radnor Mine, and most recently, the Sinomine Bikita Minerals Lithium project, among others.
The President said many more projects will be coming on stream between the next 12 to 24 months, with both small scale and established operators expected to contribute more.
“It is indeed encouraging that as of last year, and despite the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the mining sector performance amounted to US$5,2 billion from US$2,9 billion in 2017. Well done to the sector stakeholders for a commendable performance,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Since the advent of the Second Republic, I have had the privilege to commission various signature mining projects in the areas of exploration, extraction and expansion. To date, concrete initiatives are in place to legislate and issue the related incentives to further grow the industry.
“The importance of natural resources and in particular minerals towards driving sustainable socio-economic development cannot be over emphasised.
To this end, I challenge captains of the mining industry to take advantage of this conference by leveraging on the new partnerships and synergies to propel the transformation of Zimbabwe’s economy.
“The US$12 billion target is, therefore, within reach and set to see the realisation of a diversified, integrated, modern and industrialised economy synonymous with a prosperous society.”
Riding on increased capacity utilisation of the various mining houses, he said there is no excuse for the continued importation of mining consumables and related accessories such as mill balls and conveyer belts, among others.
The President’s sentiments come at a time when Zimbabwe’s mining sector is said to be importing almost 80 percent of its estimated US$2,4 billion annual order book, which contributes to annual trade deficit.
The prevailing situation creates opportunity at the same time, he said, as the local suppliers need to work closely with Government to ensure the local production of quality and competitively priced products, in line with “buy Zimbabwe”, “made in Zimbabwe” and “build Zimbabwe” initiatives.
President Mnangagwa said this year’s Mine Entra Conference, which comes after an absence of two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was an opportunity galore, a source of insights into progress being made by respective sub-sectors as well as guide on policy formulation and implementation by the Government.
Running under the theme: “Explore, Extract, Expand–Towards Sustainable Mining Value Chains,” he said the expo has facilitated several focused dialogue sessions and innovative platforms that cater for specific segments within the mining industry.
The President challenged stakeholders to fully utilise the three-day gathering to evaluate the progress made and that outcomes from discussions should provide a robust, responsive and time-framed way forward for collective momentum, going into the future.
“My expectation, therefore, is that delegates will emerge from this conference motivated and focused to do much more for the sustainable economic transformation and prosperity of our great country,” he said.
Expressing excitement over the quality of the exhibits being showcased after he earlier conducted a tour of part of the more than 160 local and foreign exhibitors, President Mnangagwa, said the improved high-level industry presence attests to the confidence that investors have in the prevailing business environment created by the Second Republic.
“I also commend the exhibitors for the broad array of insightful and quality displays, which I saw during my tour of the various stands,” he said.
In line with the transformative heritage-based Education-5.0 philosophy, President Mnangagwa said his administration remains focused on fostering development of capabilities that propel value addition and beneficiation, riding on ICT driven processes.
This entails facilitation of close working relations between industry operators with institutions of higher learning in driving new innovations, inventions, as well as research and development.
On its part, he said Government will continue to implement and create a conducive ease of doing business environment to attract both local and global capital as well as grow already established entities.
“I, therefore, invite more investors to take advantage of the numerous opportunities in areas of exploration, mineral extraction, mineral processing, value addition and beneficiation,” he said.
“Plans are in place for the accelerated value addition and beneficiation of minerals such as gold, the platinum group of metals, diamonds, chrome and ferrochrome, steel, lithium, nickel, granite, coal and hydro-carbons, among others.”
Going forward, President Mnangagwa said value addition and beneficiation must be the yardsticks to benchmark the sector’s production levels, productivity and profitability.
In that regard, the associated down and up-stream productive and supply chain linkages must be given due attention to enable the country to generate more jobs and empowerment opportunities, especially for the youth as well as foreign currency through the export of high value finished goods, he added.
“I call upon the sector to rally its players to adopt contemporary and appropriate mining technologies across the mineral value chain.
“This must result in the efficient extraction and guarantee realisation of the maximum value from our God-given endowments,” said the President.
In order to derive higher impact, he further urged organisation and syndication of the artisanal, small to medium scale miners and the integration of local procurement in the mining sector.
Stressing the need to impact positively on people’s lives, President Mnangagwa said the success of the mining sector must not only be contextualised in terms of output and value of earnings but improvements in the quality of community livelihoods.
“In light of this, the mining industry should give due regard to the environmental, social and governance issues,” he said.
“Over and above the routine corporate social responsibility programmes, our people must see tangible life transforming programmes and infrastructure from the presence of mining entities in their communities.
“I further challenge players in the mining sector to dialogue with local communities towards forging win-win synergies and partnerships for optimum benefits within the mining industry.”