HARARE, June 10 — The Zimbabwe government has lifted the ban on chrome ore exports with immediate effect, and also removed a 20 per cent tax levied on exports of the mineral, says Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa.

The government had banned exports of raw chrome in 2011 to encourage local processing and value addition.

Chidhakwa told a media briefing here Tuesday that chrome producers would now be allowed to export excess chrome ore as Zimbabwe only had a smelting capacity of 455,200 tonnes per year against annual chrome ore production estimated at 1.5 million tonnes.

He said the ban, instead of achieving desired goals, had not resulted in additional smelting capacity because of several factors, including limited availability of efficient and modern technology to process chrome ore into
ferrochrome, falling international prices of ferrochrome and high electricity tariffs.

“In order to enable chrome ore producers to mobilize financial resources for capitalization to invest in modern technology in smelting, as well as address the plight of the small-scale chrome ore producers,
the Government, has with immediate effect, lifted the ban on the export of chrome ore to allow for the export of up to 30 million tonnes of chrome ore (lumpy, fines and concentrates) over and above the export of processed ferrochrome,” he said.

“The Government has also reviewed the current royalty fees for chrome ore from two per cent to five per cent, whilst the export tax of 20 per cent has been removed to allow chrome ore producers to generate income to increase smelting capacity.”

Chidhakwa said the threshold of 30 million tonnes of chrome ore shall be subject to review based on desired developments in the establishment of additional smelting capacity in the country.

He said electricity tariffs for chrome ore producers would be reduced from eight cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 6.7 cents per kWh with immediate effect.

A strict monitoring framework shall be implemented to ensure that there are no leakages. “All the 12 chrome ore producers already in ferrochrome smelting and a Special Purpose Vehicle established by Government shall be registered with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to export excess chrome ore,” the Minister said.

“However, in order to encourage greater participation by small-scale producers, a well-monitored purchase and sale structure shall be put in place by the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) in due course.

“All exports of chrome ore shall be conducted under the auspices of the MMCZ and facilitated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.”

Chidhakwa said the export of chrome ore shall be on a pre-payment basis and the MMCZ shall establish viable arrangements with a South African company to process chrome ore fines into ferrochrome for export.

He said lifting of the ban would generate additional foreign currency earnings to boost market liquidity and expand the Government’s revenue base.

Concentrated mainly along the Great Dyke, Zimbabwe’s chrome deposits are the second largest in the world after those in South Africa.