The transformation of the mining sector is gathering momentum as the country seeks to generate more revenue from value addition, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa expected to commission Anglo-Platinum’s smelter at Unki Mine in Shurugwi next week.
Zimbabwe, just like a host of other third world countries, has been feeding off mining crumbs from the sale of raw minerals, giving advanced economies opportunities to generate more revenue from selling refined or finished products.
Miffed by continuously realising abject revenues from the abundant mineral resources, in 2014, Government directed the country’s three platinum mining firms — Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa — to construct a precious metal refinery to enable local beneficiation amid fears that Zimbabwe was also losing on other minerals associated with platinum such as gold.
The miners were given a January 2018 deadline to finish constructing such refinery, which would allow for greater value addition and beneficiation.
At the end of November, Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) announced the completion of a $62 million platinum group metal (PGM) smelter at Unki.
The smelter is expected to generate a matte product that would be sent to Amplats’ South Africa’s base metals and precious metals refineries.
President Mnangagwa also confirmed this week the completion of the Anglo-Platinum’s smelter at Unki and indicated that he would commission it next week.
“I am set to officially launch this much-awaited investment next week, thus enabling our mining industry to move one more step further up the platinum value chain,” said President Mnangagwa.
On Wednesday, the price of platinum per ounce was $834,90 while small rings made with a little bit of platinum fetch between $200 and $2 000, making a strong case for value addition.
Similarly, palladium which is part of the platinum group of metals (PGMs), was fetching $1 225,90 per ounce on the international market on Wednesday, which was marginally lower than gold that was going for $1 246,30.
This puts the country in good stead to reap more revenue from its minerals.
President Mnangagwa said the thrust to add value puts Zimbabwe on a firm pedestal “to gain immensely from the firming price” of minerals especially palladium.
The mining sector has become a key industry with potential to turnaround the economy.
Lithium has become the new kid on the block and President Mnangagwa was expected to officially open the lithium carbonate plant situated in Kwekwe.
“Again, the lithium carbonate plant shows our determination to exploit the value chain of this key global mineral whose abundant deposits in our country makes us the foremost lithium country on the African continent, and the eighth biggest globally,” he said.
The lithium carbonate plant was installed by Australian-listed mining concern, Prospect Resources, which is set to create battery grade (+99,5 percent) lithium carbonate.
The plant is the only one in Africa.
Prospect will use the facility to provide sample products to potential and future customers around the world and to demonstrate Zimbabwe’s technical capability.
The company mines lithium just outside Harare.
President Mnangagwa recently launched the $52,2 million Arcadia Lithium Project in Goromonzi.