The mining sector is highly diversified, with close to 40 different minerals. The sector accounts for about 12 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the minister of mines claims the sector has the potential to generate US$12 billion annually by 2023 if the government addresses challenges such as persistent power shortages, foreign currency shortages, and policy uncertainties.
Foreign currency retention requirements have challenged mineral exporters, particularly at times when the black-market exchange rate diverged greatly from the official rate, and has incentivized smuggling. The government expected the sector to drive economic growth in 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic dampened such optimism. The predominant minerals include gold, platinum, chrome, coal, and diamonds. The government has stated that it intends to amend the Mines and Minerals Act to make it more progressive and investor friendly to attract more investment.
Companies are required to export all minerals through the state-owned Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), with the exception of gold which must be sold to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). However, individual companies may receive permission from the government of Zimbabwe to sell minerals directly and avoid the MMCZ and U.S. targeted sanctions on the MMCZ.
The top minerals include gold, platinum, chrome, coal, diamonds, and lithium. The government expects gold exports to fall by 28 percent from US$1.33 billion in 2018 to US$946 million in 2019. Figures from the RBZ show gold deliveries declined by 16 percent from 33.2 tons in 2018 to 27.6 tons in 2019. Of this total, small-scale miners contributed 17.4 tons with primary producers contributing 10.2 tons. The RBZ attributed the overall poor gold production in 2019 to suspected smuggling, fuel shortages, and antiquated technology.
In the diamond sector, the consolidation of diamond mining companies into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company in Marange and the transition to conglomerates should lead to increased investment and purchases of new mining equipment. That consolidation involved some international firms exiting the Zimbabwe diamond sector, though some were later invited to return. According to the African Mining Market, Zimbabwe’s lithium deposits are the largest in Africa and the country will become one of the world’s largest lithium exporters due to the continued high international demand given its importance to the energy-battery industry. The government claims the country will meet 20 percent of the world’s total demand for lithium when it fully exploits its known lithium resources.
Besides direct investment in mining, there is a significant opportunity to provide heavy underground mining machinery and other supplies needed by the mines, as well as transportation infrastructure and materials, including those related to the railways. The government’s renewed interest in increasing domestic production of value-added mineral products may require larger capital investments in the mining sector than under business models that relied upon the export of unprocessed or semi-processed natural resources.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe
20 Mount Pleasant Drive, Mount Pleasant,
Tel: +263 242334517 / 242334507 www.chamberofminesofzimbabwe.com
1 Kenilworth Road
Tel: +263-242-776 085/89