Zimbabwe is seeking to increase underground chrome mining rather than cheaper strip operations, an official at the country’s Ministry of Mines and Mining Development said on Thursday (November 9).
The opencast chrome-mining methods used widely in the country are limited in both quality and the quantity they produce, explained Munesushe Munodawafa at the South Africa-based Chromium Conference.
“The future of chrome mining in Zimbabwe is in the developing of underground operations,” Mining Weekly quotes Munodawafa as saying. He also invited investors to consider partnerships with small-scale miners in the country.
In addition, Munodawafa mentioned the need for agglomeration technology for the processing of chromite fines and concentrates. “We believe that without these interventions, the chrome sector may not give us as much value as we want,” he said.
The past few years have been difficult for the chromium market. In 2016, prices for chromite, an iron and chromium oxide, and ferrochrome, a chromium and iron alloy, hit six-year lows due to falling production costs, oversupply and slower demand.
Despite those issues, at the end of last year, International Chromium Development Association market research analyst Loïc Racon said that the chromium market was “awakening,” and that momentum would increase due to Chinese demand.
China, the world’s largest stainless steel producer, consumes more than 50 percent of the world’s ferrochrome and stainless steel output. Zimbabwe and South Africa hold the majority of the world’s known chrome reserves.
South Africa is also the world’s largest producer of ferrochrome. Last year, the country produced 14,000 MT of chromium, beating out the rest of the world’s chromium producers by a wide margin. Other top chromium-producing countries include Kazakhstan, Turkey and India.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.