By Josephine Mugiyo
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has stressed the significance of value addition and beneficiation in the mining sector saying it is critical for the growth of the country’s economy.
He was speaking at the official opening of the Chamber of Mines Annual Conference and Exhibition in the resort City of Victoria Falls this Friday.
With the mining sector scoring notable achievements after most companies ramped up production, President Emmerson Mnangagwa commended players in the industry for the milestones when he officially opened the conference this Friday
“This conference takes place at a time when our country as with many others across the world is confronted with disruptions as a result of the COVID -19 pandemic and other global shocks, which have seen mixed fortunes in the various sectors of the economy. I however want to commend the mining stakeholders in our country for the notable milestones realised across the key minerals such as gold, which rose by 86%, diamonds increasing by 51%, coal adding 21% and platinum by 13%. This is highly commendable well done to you,” said the President.
As the local mining sector rides on rebounding commodity prices, President Mnangagwa said focus should be on value addition to realise maximum benefits.
“Gone are the days of exporting products in their raw form. Focus should now be on unlocking value from our rich mineral resources base. For sustainable socio-economic development. However, beneficiation in mining cannot be achieved by a business-as-usual mindset. It requires the development of backward and forward industrial linkages withing the mining sector and across other sectors of the economy.”
President Mnangagwa also reminded mining companies to create real benefits in communities where they operate.
“As you make money, make those around you happy. If they come to me and complain, I will support the voter. As you grow and develop, employees within the mining sector must not be left behind.”
The President is also impressed that investors continue to embrace the Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra as witnessed by ongoing investment in the mining sector.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Honorable Winston Chitando says despite a few challenges facing the mining sector, the Second Republic has created an enabling environment for the industry to achieve its set targets.
Hon Chitando said the country is on the right track as evidenced by the expansion of several mines across the country, as a result of the vast opportunities created by government.
“We have key projects that are being commissioned. Suffice to say that almost all the medium to large mines are expanding or planning expansion,” he said.
Minister Chitando also noted that more investment is still needed within the sector.
Among the major challenges which the sector is facing are power outages as enunciated by Chamber of Mines President, Mr Collin Chibafa.
In light of concerns raised on power supply, President Mnangagwa noted the importance of the involvement of the private sector in complementing government initiatives through independent power producers’ projects in thermal, hydro and solar energy.
Meanwhile, foreign delegates who attended the Chamber of Mines Conference called attention to the need for the region to use proceeds from the mining industry to drive other sectors of the economy.
In an interview with ZBC News on the sidelines of the conference, Botswana Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer, Mr Charles Siwawa highlighted that minerals are a finite resource which needs backing.
“Countries in the region must use resources from the mining industry to develop other sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, banking and finance as well tourism. Once this is done these sectors will continue to drive the economy because they are infinite unlike the mining sector. In some cases these other sectors may even contribute more to the economic growth than the mining sectors. This also benefits other downstream industries,” he said.
Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa Executive Secretary, Mr Vusi Mabena weighed in saying mining companies should transform communities they are operating from.
“Governments must always have policies that ensures that a certain percentages of mining royalties are ploughed back to benefit communities and not necessarily the communities from which mining is taking place but throughout the country, it can be 20% of the royalties. This ensures that the communities are sustained after the mining activities.”
Zimbabwe has set a target of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.