HARARE-- The Zimbabwean mining sector is expecting to register only a marginal increase in revenue this year to 2.5 billion US dollars from 2.38 billion USD in 2017 on the back of a marginal rise in production of all the major minerals, according to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CMZ).

Mineral revenue for 2017 was at 2.38 billion USD, up from 2.2 billion USD in 2016, benefiting from strong output performance, and favorable prices, specifically gold and palladium, it said here Wednesday. In 2018, mineral revenue is expected at 2.5 billion USD.

Last year, mineral output grew by 8.5 per cent, underpinned by a strong performance in production of gold, diamonds, chrome and coal. This year, gold production is expected to go up by 13 per cent, diamonds by 40 per cent, platinum by 9.0 pe rcent, chrome 80 per cent and palladium 5.0 per cent.

However, the CMZ warned that the mining sector remained fragile as it continued to operate below capacity due to a host of challenges, chief among them a shortage of foreign currency which was resulting in delays in foreign payments.

Other challenges included inadequate capital, high cost structure (high electricity tariff, sub-optimal fiscal charges), power disruptions, low exploration activities and depressed metal prices, mainly for platinum and nickel.

If strides were made to address the obstacles to production, the industry could perform even better than envisaged, the CMZ said. The finalization of ongoing ease doing business reforms in the mining sector under the 100-day Rapid Results Initiative will go a long way in removing the impediments and improve the competitiveness (for investment) and viability of the mining sector, the chamber said.

The mining sector body said government must accord gold producers exporter status, which will give them nostro accounts cover forimportation of critical requirements for production. Zimbabwe's mining industry is one of the top two foreign currency earning sectors, with tobacco being the other.