Home » Business » Zim Might Lift Export Ban On Chrome

ZIMBABWE may lift its export ban on raw chrome to boost viability of miners and improve liquidity, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo said.

He said the ministry had already made recommendations to the Cabinet and if approved, local miners will resume raw chrome exports which were stopped in April 2011. The ban on exports was effected to encourage companies to beneficiate the mineral.

“In the meantime, we are saying we can have a window for exporting chrome fines to enhance viability and improve liquidity,” said Deputy Minister Moyo in an interview.

“We made recommendations to the Cabinet and we were asked to refine the document by addressing some of the concerns which were raised and we have done that.”

The ban on exports resulted in the closure of some mines due to inadequate smelting capacity. Ferrochrome, produced in smelters using chrome ore, is used to make stainless steel.

Zimbabwe has the world’s largest chrome reserves after South Africa. It is estimated that the country is sitting on over one billion tonnes of chrome reserves, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, with chrome fines constituting two thirds. But local smelters do not have technology to process coal fines.

Zimasco, the country’s largest ferrochrome producer alongside other companies can only smelt chrome lumps. African Chrome Fields has started working on a project in the Midlands Province and will set up smelting plant which can smelt chrome fines.

The plant will have exothermic, a new technology of smelting chrome concentrate into ultra-low carbon ferrochrome in less than 60 seconds which does not require electricity.

According to industry players, more than 2 000 jobs could be created if chrome ore exports resumes and this will result in liquidity inflows into the Government coffers.

Economic analysts believe it will make economic sense, for now, to allow miners to export while at the same time putting in place a framework which will compel them to beneficiate.

“While the thrust is for companies to establish smelters to beneficiate, it would make sense to allow them to export raw chrome to create jobs and improve their viability at the moment while putting in place a framework to promote beneficiation,” said one analyst who works for a Harare-based research company.

Source : The Herald