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– Herald

Stakeholders from across Zimbabwe’s mining industry meet in Victoria Falls starting today until Saturday, focussed on discussing issues troubling operators, strategies and policy proposals to optimise mineral production and value addition.

President Mnangagwa, who declared Zimbabwe open for business since his administration took over the reins in November 2017, will headline the event and is expected to address the gathering tomorrow.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube and a guest speaker from the mining industry of Ghana will be among the top panelists.

Mining is strategically important to Zimbabwe’s economy, accounting for roughly three quarters of its annual export receipts.

Government targets to grow export earnings from US$3,2 billion in 2017 to US$12 billion by 2023, which also forms the basis of the vision to transform the country to a middle income economy by 2030.

Meeting under the ambit of Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ), the annual indaba will discuss a range of issues, including factors that weighed down on production of most minerals in the 2021 first quarter.

Miners, however, hope output will rebound in the second half of the year following easing of Covid-19 restrictions globally and if policy measures to address factors impacting production are taken.

Notably, this comes as production of gold, Zimbabwe’s single largest export earner, dipped significantly over the past two years.

However, miners remain optimistic of Zimbabwe’s potential to achieve its target of producing 100 tonnes, as challenges experienced by the sector can be overcome.

Measures adopted by Government are expected to rekindle production of key minerals among them gold, platinum group metals (PGMs), chrome, nickel, diamond and coal.

These include a review of the foreign currency retention ratio to 80:20 for all increases in production, improved turnaround in payment from Fidelity Printers and ongoing processes to come up with a better gold sector policy framework.

Other talking points at the annual general meeting (AGM) will be platinum beneficiation, with a view to maximise benefits through optimal platinum beneficiation.

CoMZ president Elizabeth Nerwande told a media briefing on Friday last week that 2020 was very challenging due to the Covid-19.

But Mrs Nerwande applauded the Government for allowing mining firms to operate during the national lockdown; after designating it an essential service sector.

“In the first quarter we saw a dip in production. This year’s theme is…“Navigating turbulent times and The Need to Build Resilience,”

Mrs Nerwande said.

CoMZ chief executive Isaac Kwesu said 2020 was a very difficult period, as was the first quarter of this year. He said mines were not spared the challenges of Covid-19.

Capital constraint is still an issue, he said. Last year the sector was constrained by Covid-19, after worldwide restrictions disrupted global value aad supply chains.

Operating costs remain high. The first quarter was generally bleak, as most minerals recorded a dip in production, Mr Kwesu said.

He said the sector would

“see a rebound in the second quarter. We continue to work closely with the Government so that we achieve our targets. Most key minerals recorded output declines in the first quarter of 2021”.

Challenges besetting the sector include the coronavirus, which prompted national lockdowns across the globe and disrupted global supply chains, the shortage of forex, high costs and capital constraints.

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