Zim’s new mining minister offers fresh hope
By Kuda Bwititi, Southern Times Business Writer
Harare – Zimbabwe’s new Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, is targeting immediate growth in the sector, amid high hopes that his appointment will give fresh stimulus to mining, which is the highest earner of foreign currency for the country.
Prior to his appointment, Chitando was executive chairman of Mimosa, a platinum concern which boasts one of the largest mining operations in Zimbabwe.
Chitando has over 30 years’ experience working with reputable mining houses in Zimbabwe, the bulk of which were in executive positions.
He also served as president of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines and chairman of the Platinum Producers Association of Zimbabwe, among other posts.
Chitando was one of the technocrats appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new Zimbabwean President designated a number of new faces to steer his economic reform programme that is anchored on shifting from the business as usual approach.
Speaking after he was sworn in by President Mnangagwa in Harare on Monday, Chitando said he was angling for growth of the mining sector.
“I am humbled by the appointment and all I can say is I look forward to being part of the process to grow our mining industry for the benefit of the people.”
Zimbabwe’s mining experts said Chitando’s appointment is a game-changer as his first-hand knowledge will come in handy to propel the sector to new heights.
“This is just what the doctor ordered. We could not have expected a more befitting candidate to steer the ship in the mining sector,” said Zimbabwe Miners Federation spokesman Dosman Mangisi.
Mangisi said he expects the new mining minister to come up with policies that will lead to increased output among artisanal miners in gold production.
“The biggest advantage that we have is that Chitando knows the sector well. His in-tray is going to be full but I expect him to address capacitation small-scale miners with immediate effect.
“For over three years now, there has been talk of the US$100 million facility to support artisanal miners and we are hoping that this can be activated soon. This is because small scale miners are delivering more gold than the large scale players and as such there can easily be increased growth from the artisanal miners if they receive the necessary support, particularly through mechanisation.”
Mangisi said Chitando should also find a resolution to the calls for the country to establish a platinum refinery infrastructure to increase benefits from the group of metals.
“He is the best person to come up with a solution on that. He knows the sector well and I am sure the platinum sector will look forward to his guidance on the platinum refinery,” he said.
This year, mining has generated about US$2 billion in export receipts, with platinum, gold and chrome, among the top earners.
The country is also anticipating high returns from sale of about 2 million carats of diamonds that are set to be traded soon.
Experts contend that the mining sector has the potential to perform better as there are several mines that have been shut down or failed to take-off owing to lack of investment and bad decisions.
According to the KPMG global mining index, Zimbabwe has more than 40 known mineable resources, dominated by two prominent geological features, the Great Dyke and the ancient greenstone belts.
Zimbabwe boasts of the second largest known reserves of both platinum and chrome after South Africa.
The Southern African country has also been referred to as the “Persian Gulf of Africa” owing to its vast mineral resources.