LocalNews

Chinese prey on Zimbabwean copper

HARARE (Mining Index) – AS LOCAL miners jostle for gold which seem as the only mineral found in Zimbabwe, foreign nationals are spoilt for choice, tapping into Zimbabwe’s over 60 minerals, with the Chinese leading the pack in acquiring concessions for various minerals.

By Business Reporter – Wednesday 1 July 2020

While every Zimbabwean who wants to venture into mining thinks of gold mining, the Chinese are flocking into the country in search of copper mining opportunities.

Zimbabwe seems to have forgotten about this hidden treasurer and how much it can contribute to economic development.

Copper has not been actively mined in the last 20 years since the fall of Mhangura Copper Mine in 2000.

A local copper producer revealed the Chinese have vested interest in Zimbabwean copper.

“We have daily enquiries from various Chinese companies wanting to buy our copper with the intent to export it to China. One of them is Sinosteel,”

Sinosteel is a Chinese company that acquired a 92 percent stake in the Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company (Zimasco) for chrome mining.

“It has been enquiries only and a lot of other Chinese nationals have flown to Zimbabwe to see our copper operations,” said Tashinga Maponga, Director at Afro Southern.

Zimbabwe has been exporting copper to China in raw form.

“Most of this ore has been going to China for further processing into the smelter meaning we as Zimbabwe have been selling the copper in its raw form,” he said.

The Chinese, who are operating a separate concession near Mhangura Copper Mine, are said to be buying copper ore and copper concentrates from local producers.

“There are ready buyers in Zimbabwe and also on the international market for the Zimbabwean copper ore and copper concentrates with only a single Chinese company in the Mhangura area doing copper smelting,” he said.

Mhangura Copper Mine closed in 2000 due to weak copper prices and its revival requires serious and holistic investors with a long term position on investment.

“The closure of Mhangura was mainly due to the high costs of production that could no longer be covered by the selling price. Our cost of electricity in Zimbabwe and the fact that we do not have guaranteed suppliers has been a major setback in companies setting up smelting plants.”

“I also think that the companies did not move with changes in technology and their old smelting plants had become too costly to run,” said Maponga.

Maponga however lamented the high cost and irregular power supplies as major bottlenecks affecting copper production.

“It would be the best for us to achieve maximum benefit but the cost of electricity in Zimbabwe is high and the supply is not consistent,” he said.

Last year, state mining vehicle, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) said US$500 million was required to revive three of its copper mines together with a new smelter and refinery. ZMDC has three groups of Copper Mines namely, Mhangura, Sanyati and Alaska Copper Mines. ENDS// www.miningindex.co.zw

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