By Byron Mutingwende
Winston Chitando, the technocrat that President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed as minister of mines and mining development has laid out a revival plan for the sector.
Chitando revealed that during the deliberations on oral evidence from his sector, boards and parastatatals on the ministry’s plans and programmes to address the urgent issues related to the mining sector in Zimbabwe.
Temba Mliswa, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on mines and energy had said there were high expectations from the sector since mining contributes significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the economy in general.
In his brief about the ministry’s role and that of parastatals under his ambit, Chitanda expressed optimism in working with Parliament and other stakeholders in furtherance of the sector’s expectations.
“Regarding the recommendations by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, we have proposed a full day break-away session to engage on all the outstanding issues. My ministry is seized with trying to ensure it plays a pivotal role in the turnaround of the economy. Mining industrial capacity utilisation is currently very low with the exception of platinum. We will work hard and come up with action plans to ensure maximum capacity utilisation,” Chitando said.
The minister bemoaned the limitations in the capacity to raise capital by the mining industry and said he would embrace the Budget thrust to open the sector for business. Currently, investors are making inquiries for possible mining investment opportunities.
Zimbabwe is under-explored and the exploration done was done using inferior technologies hence there is a need for increased exploration towards the discovery of more minerals. The minister said there was an urgent need to come up with action plans for timeous dispute resolution.
“In terms of governance structures, parastatals do not have full sets of boards of directors. We need the full boards to ensure sound corporate governance,” Chitando said.
In 2016, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company produced 961 000 carats of diamond and increased production to 1, 8 million carats in 2017. There are plans to increase the production to 3 million carats in 2018. No sale of diamonds took place in 2017 but the selling process is expected to start in the first quarter of 2018.
Chidhakwa urged the Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC) to come up with a roadmap to ensure the company utilises all the assets it possesses. He said there was a need to ensure the assets operate at maximum capacity and spell out the targets, constraints and solutions. The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) last year paid a dividend of $1 million to the government and was encouraged to resuscitate its idle operations.
The ministry is also working with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on initiatives to increase gold production by targeting large, small-scale and artisanal miners. The minister also said there was need to start producing lithium and make Zimbabwe a significant producer of the mineral on the world market. On coal production, significant progress has been made in turning around the fortunes of Hwange Colliery Company.
To allow for an operating space to implement the holistic and inclusive turnaround plan, the company will be entering into structured payment plans with its creditors.
Hwange Colliery Company is planning to increase production in the open pit operations. Management interventions are underway to make the mining equipment more reliable and available for operations so that production will increase.