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Mining firms expected output to rebound

Mineral output is forecast to rebound in the July to December period after production fell in the first quarter compared to the same period prior year.

Mining is Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earner, accounting for over 70 percent of export receipts.

Major exports include gold, platinum, chrome and diamond.

Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) president Mrs Elizabeth Nerwande told a media briefing in the capital on Friday ahead of the annual general meeting (AGM) slated for Victoria Falls this week that 2020 was very challenging due to the coronavirus pandemic.

She, however, applauded the Government for designating mining an essential service sector, which meant it was allowed to continue operating.

President Mnangagwa will be the guest of honour at the mining indaba, which is scheduled to run from June 3 to June 5.

“In the first quarter, we saw a dip in production,” she said.

Declines were recorded across key minerals, including gold, nickel and chrome.

Miners such as Caledonia Mining Corporation that have been recording growth over the last two years also took a knock in the first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

At Blanket Mine, 13 197 ounces (371kg) of gold produced in the first quarter were lower than the 14 233 ounces (403kg) produced prior year comparative.

Production was adversely affected by underground flooding and lower grades, according to the miner.

Similarly, at RioZim gold production across its operations took a dip during the first quarter due to excessive rains. The mining group has gold operations at Cam & Motor and Dalny mines in Kadoma and Renco in Masvingo.

In the platinum sector, the country’s largest platinum miner, Zimplats, recorded low output during its third quarter ended March 31, 2021 due to the temporary closure of operations at its Ngwarati Mine early this year.

CoMZ chief executive officer Mr Isaac Kwesu said 2020 was a very difficult period as was the first quarter of this year. He said mines were not spared from the fallout of the global health crisis.

“Capital constraints are still an issue . . . Last year it was constrained by Covid-19. Operating costs remain high. The first quarter was generally bleak, as most minerals — gold, nickel and chrome — declined,” said Mr Kwesu.

The sector, he added, would “see a rebound in the second quarter. We continue to work closely with the Government so that we achieve our targets. Most key minerals recorded output declines in the first quarter of 2021.”

Challenges besetting the sector include the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted national lockdowns across the globe and disrupted global supply chains, the shortage of foreign currency, high costs and capital constraints.

“Despite the subdued first quarter performance, we are anticipating the mining sector to rebound in the second half and attain annual targets.”

Government is working on growing mining from a US$3,5 billion industry to a US$12 billion sector by 2023, with gold, platinum, chrome, diamond and lithium among the major contributors.

Overall, the sector is expected to anchor the country’s transition into an upper middle-income economy by 2030. Sunday Mail

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