HARARE – Zimbabwe this week hosts the 35th annual conference of the International Chromium Development Association (ICDA) in the resort town of Victoria Falls, with over 200 international delegates expected to attend, a cabinet minister said on Sunday.
Established in 1984, the ICDA promotes and provides support for the global chromium industry and represents the interests of chrome ore and ferrochrome producers, customers and other entities in the value chain.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando said the meeting, which runs from 7 to 9 May, is expected to be opened by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday.
“More than 200 international delegates from mining and related sectors will attend the conference which has been over-subscribed,” Chitando told the Sunday Mail newspaper.
Besides tackling issues related to the industry on a global scale, the minister said: “The conference will highlight the importance of Zimbabwe in the chromium industry and will provide an opportunity to promote Zimbabwe’s rich mineral resources and the opportunity for the development and investment in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.”
To show the high interest in attendance in the conference, the ICDA, on its website, said it was no longer taking new participants for the Victoria Falls meeting as it was “fully booked” and encouraged those interested to start registering for its next conference set for November in New Delhi, India.
Among key questions expected to be answered at this year’s conference, the ICDA said, was: “Will 2019 mark the resurgence of Zimbabwe in the global chromium market? Increasing beneficiation, developing stainless steel industry locally, what is the strategy of the country holding the second largest chrome ore reserves in the world?”
With over 60 minerals found in the country, the bulk of which are yet to be beneficially exploited, Zimbabwe is ranked as the second in the world, after South Africa, in terms of chrome ore resources.
While both chrome and ferrochrome production are still relatively low, increasing investment in the industry in the past few years has seen output growing to 1.358 million tonnes of chrome in 2018 from around 186 000 tonnes.
Ferrochrome production on the other hand, is this year expected to jump to 418 000 tonnes from 350 000 last year.
At current production, Zimbabwe is contributing four percent and 2.5 percent respectively to global chrome and ferrochrome production.
Chitando said the target was to hike ferrochrome output to 956 000 tonnes by 2022 in line with government’s 2030 vision.
Increased production in the chrome sector, will be key in the envisaged set up of a stainless steel plant in the country, which will utilise the output from that sector as a key raw material. – New Ziana