HARARE – Zimbabwe’s Mines Minister and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando has presented a detailed road map of how he plans to build a $12 billion sector by revenue in the next four years, according to Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa.

Mutsvangwa told a post Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday that the plan will be launched soon, demonstrating the southern African country’s ambition to capitalise on its abundant minerals to rebuild a faltering economy.

Chitando said on his appointment about 18 months ago that at a revenue of about $2,7 billion per annum, Zimbabwe’s mining industry was underachieving and plans were underway to come up with strategies to grow the industry by 2023.

If the $12 billion is achieved, it will represent a huge leap for mining industry revenue in Zimbabwe, which has been generating $2,7 billion per annum.

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“Cabinet considered a paper by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development on the roadmap for the achievement of a US$12 billion mining industry in Zimbabwe by 2023, a 344 percent increase from US$2.7 billion in 2017. A detailed document which will outline the achievement of the US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 will be launched very shortly,” Mutsvangwa said.

Gold and platinum are among the minerals expected to lead the grow in mining revenue, together with minerals like diamonds, chrome and coal.

In May, Zimbabwe’s large-scale gold mines said they had the capacity to generate $4 billion worth of revenue to the economy in the next five years.

Thomas Gono, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe’s Gold Producers Association, however noted that at least $1 billion in fresh capital would be required by the sector to achieve this target.

“It is not an elusion that we can achieve 100 tonnes of gold output by 2023,” said Gono, who spoke during a gold mining symposium at the the 2019 mining industry annual conference.

“We can actually contribute $4 billion by 2023 and make significant contribution to foreign direct investment. But the gold sector requires in excess of $1 billion in the next five years to sustain the growth and development of the sector to achieve the 2023 target,” Gono noted.

He said a number of factors were militating against growth, including power cuts of up to seven days a week, and the foreign currency shortages that have lately seen a number of mines contemplating “suspending operations”.

He said gold revenues had increased to $1,35 billion in 2018, from $110 million in 2008, due to improved policies, but government had to make sure the operating environment remained perfect in order to encourage investment into the sector, noted Gono.

“We have a support in our society of 1,5 million people under the small-scale mining sector alone. So, government cannot afford to ignore our requirements. Gold mines employ 12 000 jobs directly, which is 25 percent of the total jobs in the mining industry. And there are 33 000 jobs indirectly,” he said.

He described the period 2005 to 2012 as the lost decade for Zimbabwe’s gold sector.

“We have not done well enough,” he said.

“Our production declined to 3,5 tonnes in 2008 but at the time gold prices rose to $1 800 per ounce. We regard this as the lost decade. But from 1999, if we had increased production annually by five percent, we would have reached 50 tonnes of gold in 2018, instead of the 35 tonnes that we produced,” said Gono.