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Zimbabwe Conference touts country’s mineral riches
March 2, 2018, 12:07 pm

The message that Zimbabwe is open for business was conveyed by banners and many government officials at the Zimbabwe Mining Investment Conference 2018 held at the Meikles Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe has 800 mines which have the potential capacity to earn US$18 billion per year

In this case, however, it is not mere words, as Minister of Mines Winston Chitando told more than 300 delegates that his ministry and the Chamber of Mines held weekly meetings to remove obstacles to doing business.

The recently announced National Railway of Zimbabwe deal with South Africa’s state-owned logistics firm Transnet to recapitalise rolling stock and locomotives showed that the government was keen on making it easier to do business in Zimbabwe.

Lyudmila Dyba from the Russian-based Liberation Mining that in her view the two biggest obstacles to mining in Zimbabwe were infrastructure constraints, in terms of logistics and power supply, as well as the slow pace of regulatory response.

“In Russia we are used to getting a response from bureaucrats within hours or days, but here it takes weeks and sometimes months to get an answer,” she said.

In response to a question from The BRICS Post as to BRICS interest in Zimbabwean mining and whether Zimbabwe would participate at the BRICS Summit in South Africa in July, Chitando said there was interest from several BRICS mining companies, but rather than visit each BRICS country in turn, the government was organising an international investment conference in London, the United Kingdom, from 14 to 17 March.

“All BRICS mining companies are welcome to attend that conference as I will only be one among many ministers at that conference, as Zimbabwe is open for business and we want to attract investment as fast as possible, especially in the graphite and lithium sectors. As to whether we will attend the BRICS Summit, I do not know,” he said.

According to consultancy Mining Report, Zimbabwe has 800 mines which have the potential capacity to earn $18 billion per year, but the sector has stagnated since 2009 with annual turnover only at $2 billion.

Zimbabwe’s mining sector has a great opportunity for growth with the prospect of attracting $12 billion over the next 5 years.

Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth is based on the Great Dyke with over 60 minerals and it has the second largest platinum and chrome deposits in the world, and is the fifth largest producer of lithium. Mining contributes 13 per cent to the economy and is responsible for 68 per cent of foreign exchange earnings.

Zimbabwe is targeting to produce at least 10 per cent of global lithium output within the next four years, following the discovery of new deposits of the mineral in different parts of the country.

The discovery of new deposits in areas including Kamativi, in Matabeleland North Province, and in Mashonaland Central Province, has resulted in the country seeing a scramble for lithium exploration and extraction licences by foreign investors.

Earlier this year, Australia-based Prospect Resources raised US$ 10 million to accelerate development of its Arcadia Lithium Mine, located about 38 kilometres east of Harare.

The Zimbabwe government has already declared the Arcadia Lithium Mine, which is expected to start production in the third quarter of 2018, as a priority project, to take advantage of growing global demand due to the use of lithium in lithium-ion batteries for electronics and electric vehicles.

The Zulu Mine located about 80 km from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, was at an advanced stage of development. The Zulu Mine project is being spearheaded by Premier African Minerals.

In his closing remarks to the conference, Stuart Comberbach, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet, said there remained a great deal still to be done.

But the actions of the past hundred days has shown that the new government had learnt the harsh lessons of the past and was busy making up for lost time.

Helmo Preuss in Harare, Zimbabwe for the BRICS Post

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