This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector is highly diversified, with close to 40 different minerals. The predominant minerals include platinum group metals (PGM), chrome, gold, coal, and diamonds. The country boasts the second-largest platinum deposit and high-grade chromium ores in the world, with approximately 2.8 billion tons of PGM and 10 billion tons of chromium ore. 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.
Low foreign currency retention requirements have challenged mineral exporters, particularly at times when the black-market exchange rate diverged greatly from the official rate leading to smuggling. The government’s expectations the sector would drive economic growth were dampened by COVID-19 in 2020, but there have been some initial signs of recovery in 2021 driven by improved international commodity prices. The government 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), except gold which must be sold to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s (RBZ) subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR). Individual companies may receive permission, however, from the government of Zimbabwe to sell minerals directly to avoid U.S.-targeted sanctions on the MMCZ.
Zimbabwe’s top minerals include gold, platinum group metals (PGM), chrome, coal, diamonds, and lithium.
Exploration of possible oil and gas deposits in Muzarabani is scheduled to begin later this year. Compared to largely depressed mining activities in 2020 due to COVID-19 induced lockdowns, demand increased in 2021 for a wide range of commodities. Supply chain disruptions in South Africa and Russia helped increase global PGM prices in 2021. Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines 2021 state of mining report projected significant growth in the diamond, coal, and chrome subsectors, with PGM continuing to lead the sector.
According to the RBZ, legal exports of gold, Zimbabwe’s top mineral export, increased from US$1.2billion in 2020 to US$1.7 billion in 2021. The RBZ attributed the 42 percent increase in 2021 to improved gold output and firm prices as economies recovered from COVID-19 lockdowns. Challenges including suspected smuggling, fuel shortages, and antiquated technology persisted. FPR announced in mid-2021 that it will combat these underlying issues by allowing large-scale gold mining companies to export a portion of their bullion directly. FPR expects this measure to increase production by allowing companies to secure funding in the form of gold loans. FPR also hopes that direct payments will help prevent the illegal export of gold, estimated at US$1.2 billion per year by small-scale miners who extract most of the country’s gold. A 2022 Center for Natural Resource Governance report on illicit financial flows in the artisanal mining sector estimated as much as US$1.9 billion is lost annually due to leakages. The RBZ retracted its August 2021 announcement it would divide FPR into two separate companies and sell a majority stake in the new gold refinery business to ten mining companies in May 2022, noting FPR was now off the market. FPR remains the country’s sole buyer and exporter of gold.
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. The consolidation led to some international firms exiting the diamond sector, though some were later invited and returned.
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 growing world demand for rechargeable batteries. 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, and four major lithium projects are currently under development.
Besides direct investment in mining, there is a significant opportunity to provide heavy underground mining machinery and other supplies, as well as transportation infrastructure and materials, including railways. The government’s renewed interest in increasing domestic production of value-added mineral products will require larger capital investments in the mining sector than the current business model which relies on exporting unprocessed or semi-processed natural resources.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe
20 Mount Pleasant Drive, Mount Pleasant, Harare.
Tel: +263 242334517 / 242334507