The future of Zimbabwe’s mining industry remains bright in the medium-to-long term with output for most minerals poised to register phenomenal growth despite setbacks experienced in the first half of the year, the Chamber of Mines has said.
It noted continued efforts by Government to address bottlenecks affecting miners in its drive to enhance the ease of doing business.
Officially opening the Women in Mining Conference on the sidelines of the Mine Entra expo in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Chamber of Mines president, Elizabeth Nerwande-Chibanda, said despite subdued mining industry performance in the first half of 2019, hopes for recovery were high and that desired targets will be met in the last half of the year.
“The medium-to-long term prospects of the mining industry remains bright, with output for most minerals expected to record phenomenal growth. Government continues to address the structural distortions and the cost of doing business in Zimbabwe,” she said.
Mining is one of the key economic pillars and contributes significantly to export earnings as well as job creation in the country.
The 24th edition of Mine Entra, which began on Wednesday ends today under the theme, “Resourcing the Future: Exploring and Leveraging Women’s Potential in the Ministry Industry”.
As Government and private sector work together to address key challenges affecting the mining industry, Nerwande-Chibanda, said output in the mining sector was projected at 40 tonnes for gold, platinum 15 tonnes, nickel 18 000 tonnes, coal 3,4 million tonnes, diamonds 3,3 million carats, chrome 1,8 million tonnes and lithium 80 000 tonnes.
She said the country’s mining industry has emerged to become a key pillar to the economic transformation and attainment of Vision 2030 of Zimbabwe becoming an upper middle-income economy.
“The sector is currently contributing in excess of 15 percent to nominal Gross Domestic Product, more than 65 percent to national exports, around 12 percent of fiscal revenue, attracts more than 50 percent of foreign direct investment and creates more than 45 000 formal jobs and in excess of one million workers in the artisanal and small-scale operators,” said Nerwande-Chibanda.
“Leveraging on our huge resource base the upside potential to expand the contribution of the mining industry through extraction and enhanced linkages.”
She said Government has already challenged the mining sector to take a lead in realising Vision 2030, adding that Zimbabwe has set a key milestone of a US$12 billion mining sector by 2023.
Nerwande-Chibanda also noted that strong mining sector growth prospects provide opportunities for women to participate in the entire mining value chain.
She said mining companies have taken a deliberate decision to accord employment and business opportunities to women with a view to enhance and mainstream gender balance in the mining sector.
“Mining companies have increased the number of women employed in various positions from shop floor to senior and executive management. I would like to encourage women to take up employment opportunities as they arise in the sector,” said the Chamber of Mines president.
She highlighted that a number of mining companies were supporting the establishment of women-led enterprises through local enterprise development initiatives in order for the enterprises to service them. Earlier in her opening remarks, Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube, challenged women in mining to promote beneficiation to create jobs for the youths across downstream industries.
“Women in mining create some jobs for your children, whatever you get out there don’t take it across the borders without beneficiation.
“Through value addition and beneficiation of Zimbabwe resources, you can earn more by so doing. Let us approach the relevant ministries. If it means us approaching the highest office let us do so. Let us capacitate other women and the young people because they are our future leaders. Let’s create some jobs,” she said.
Over the years, Government has stressed the need to promote value addition and beneficiation of natural resources to unlock value other than exporting the country’s natural resources in raw form.
Minister Ncube urged women in mining to take collective responsibility for the success of the country and engage the previously male-dominated industry with confidence as any other industry that women were engaged in.
“Let us position ourselves strategically where our strengths lie along the value chain and we will be sure to reap the benefits of our endeavours,” she said.