Midlands chrome miners air their grievances
By Ndanatsiwa Tagwireyi
Chrome Miners in the Midlands Province have aired their grievances on chrome pricing, lack of funding, dispute resolution and other factors currently bedeviling the smooth flow of operations in their sector.
This came to light during a question-and-answer session at the recently held Southern Region Minex 2022 Edition held in Zvishavane. The event was graced by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando ably represented by his deputy Honorable Polite Kambamura.
“We are talking about chrome pricing daily, we started talking about it in the 1990s up to now; we said do what is called zero base when doing the pricing system; zero base means cost+markup,”one Midlands based miner Mr Chivendere said. “The money we are getting from buyers is too little, they give us $20-$40, or even what they decide.”
“Minister, how soon are you going to assist us in the current chrome pricing crisis that we are currently facing,” asked a female miner during the session.
This is coming in at a time when the government banned exports of raw chrome ore with effect from July 2022 to support the domestic ferrochrome industry.
Lack of chrome mining specific funding was also cited as a challenge being witnessed by chrome miners in the Midlands Province.
“We hear you speaking about banks, mentioning that miners can get loans, we see that we are just here for gold miners and chrome miners seem to be forgotten,” Neta based chrome miner Johan Ganyani said. “It pains me that I am into chrome mining but issues of chrome are not being talked about, you talk about so many billions brought by small scale gold miners, what about us?”
Data from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Quarterly Economic Review, September 2021) indicate that chrome output was at 481,287.7 tonnes in the third quarter of 2021, representing a 96% more output than the one produced in the same period in 2020.
On funding, one Zvishavane based miner Christopher Mkanda said: “If possible, there should be a bank opened for miners; decentralized in provinces or small towns with miners like what is done with the agricultural bank.”
Other issues raised emanate from unfair practices being witnessed in mining areas where other foreign investors operate in. Great Dyke Youth Chrome Miners Association in Zvishavane Official Owen Mubhobho expressed concern over how some Chinese investors are operating in the chrome mining sector.
Mkanda also touched on the issue of dispute resolution in mining where he suggested that Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) offices responsible for mining related issues should be near the Ministry of Mines offices to ensure the timeous settlement of mining disputes.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development Polite Kambamura said government is already working on modalities to stabilize chrome prices. He said work is still in progress and government expects to see changes in the next three months.
“Government is already working to come up with a platform whereby the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) will control the chrome prices,” said Kambamura. “We have noted that the Chinese are taking advantage of you, that is why the government has chipped into the sector to bring sanity on the price of chrome.”
Responding to a mining bank request, Kambamura said the suggestion has already been put forward to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
He also touched on dispute resolution citing that: “We put forward the suggestion of mining courts, as you may be aware, all mining cases end up being at the high court and the high court is currently overwhelmed with mining disputes.”
“Ministry has come up with the mining cadastre system that will ease up issues of disputes and so forth,”