Mineral Beneficiation Business Opportunities in Zimbabwe
With over 60 different minerals, Zimbabwe is considered one of the richest Nation in Mineral Resources in the world. Zimbabwe is said to be underexplored and much or her mineral recourse is exported unprocessed or semi-processed. The government of Zimbabwe targets to make the Mining Sector a 12 Billion Dollar Industry by 2023, but is that possible without pursuing most of its mineral’s value chain? Let’s dive in into some mineral beneficiation business opportunities.
Black Granite is said to be covering 75% of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe’s black granite is the most demanded on the international market due to its rare quality, consistence and decorative tenor. Whilst granite mining in Zimbabwe started more than 50 years ago, around 20 companies mine granite with an annual production estimated to be 200,000 MT of which only 5% is being processed in Zimbabwe.
Granite is used much in the construction industry, on buildings, monuments, bridges, paving and many other exterior projects. For interior purposes, it is used as kitchen counter tops, polished granite slabs, tile floor, stair treads and all kinds of funerary art.
Zimbabwe is ranked 2nd after South Africa in Chrome Deposits Globally, it accounts approximately 12% of the total global reserves. It has an estimated reserve of 10 Billion Tonnes in the great dyke, ore also mainly occurs in the greenstone belts.
However, Zimbabwe exports most of her chrome unprocessed or semi-processed. Zimbabwe which is the second largest producer of ferrochrome and chromite ore supplies 60% of its product to China which is the largest consumer of chromium as well as the top producer of stainless steel. Chromite Ore exports in 2018 totalled 800,000 tonnes
Chromium is alloyed (that is, mixed) with steel to make it corrosion-resistant or harder. An example is its use in the production of stainless steel, a bright, shiny steel that is strong and resistant to rusting. Stainless steel production consumes most of the chromium produced annually. Chromium is also used to make heat-resisting steel. So-called “super alloys” use chromium and have strategic military applications.
Chromium also has some use in the manufacturing of certain chemicals. For example, chromium-bearing chemicals are used in the process of tanning leather. Chromium compounds are also used in the textiles industries to produce a yellow colour.
Zimbabwe is estimated to be exporting over one million carats of diamond per year. Diamonds has 3 major uses. Due to its durability and shiny lustre property, it is used to manufacture jewellery such as earrings, rings, pendants etc.
It is also used for industrial purpose such as drilling, grinding or cutting materials. This is due to their hardness hence some blades used for cutting and drills in the industry used diamonds. They are present on the edges and tips in small sizes.
It is also used for beauty products and audio equipment.
Every district of Zimbabwe has confirmed gold deposits. Zimbabwe exports much of her gold as bullion (gold bars) and some in semi-processed state, of which a favourable percentage could have been used in at least jewellery manufacturing.
Gold remains a popular gift in the form of jewellery. Indians and Chinese are said to be the major consumers of gold jewelleries and its prices spikes around September during the Indian wedding season and in December, before Chinese new-year celebrations. It acts as a reliable conductor allowing for the rapid and accurate transmission of digital data from one device to another since it doesn’t corrode. It can also be used in electronics and a small amount of it can be found in devices such as computers, phones and calculators.
It can also be used as currency and store of value.
Platinum Group Mineral
Platinum Group Mineral (PGMs) mainly consist of rhodium, platinum and palladium. There are also associated with valuable base minerals such as nickel, copper and cobalt. A significant proportion of gold can also be found in it. In the most scenario, all these minerals associated with PGMs are exported as platinum concentrate, whilst not considering the availability and value of other minerals.
Rhodium, can be used to make auto catalysts but increasingly can be found in the machinery that is used to manufacture flat panel displays (just like indium, rhodium is used in the flat screen TV sector). Platinum is used in the automobile sector, manufacturing of computer disks and LCD glass panels. Finally Platinum and Palladium have similar physical and chemical characteristics and the two metals are partially interchangeable in some of their end uses, notably in automotive emission-control catalysts.
All the main sector serviced by the PGMs are on a rise LCD manufacturing automobiles.
In Zimbabwe, more than 30 deposits of nickel are known, whilst production is currently at Trojan in Bindura. It is also exported as processed or semi processed material whilst it can be combined with other metals that we already have, such as iron, copper, chromium, and zinc, to form alloys. These alloys are used to make coins, jewellery, and items such as valves and heat exchangers. Most nickel is used to make stainless steel.
In 2019, Zimbabwe imported 2 499kg of stainless steel products, worth at least US$7 179, whilst it exported none of it. A stainless steel company can serve both the domestic and foreign market with stainless steel products.
Zimbabwe is also blessed abundantly with lithium deposits, being the 5th producer in the world in 2019. Lithium is used in the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, and the demand of the cells has been on a rise globally and the question is, can’t we manufacture our own locally?