Ultimatum for granite miners

TINASHE MAKICHI

Government has issued a six-month ultimatum to all granite mining companies to come up with a beneficiation plan or risk losing their trading licences, Business Times can report.

There are several mining companies extracting granite in Mutoko district in Mashonaland East and Mt Darwin district in Mashonaland Central Province.

The mining companies, however, are exporting granite in its raw form.

Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) general manager, Tongai Muzenda told Business Times that granite miners were seized with the matter as they scramble to save their operations as the government is seriously considering banning exports of unbeneficiated granite.

Tongai Muzenda

It is understood that the Presidium has since instructed the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to work on regulations banning exports of unprocessed granite.

Muzenda said MMCZ was also exerting pressure on granite miners to beneficiate their product before exporting as the government’s minerals marketing arm targets maximum foreign currency earnings from granite sales.

“Each and every producer must come up with a beneficiation plan. Most of them have already provided plans. Some are still looking for funding while others have already secured the required funds to set up beneficiation facilities,” Muzenda said.

He added: “Some are complaining that they are failing to secure land to set up the facilities. Government has come in and informed us that they will stop issuing licences on raw export of granite. All of them were given a six months ultimatum to come up with a plan.”

Granite contributes about 1.6% of Zimbabwe’s total exports.

According to official data obtained from MMCZ, 98% of the mined granite is exported to Italy, South Africa, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Argentina, the United States, and Canada

In general, a 1-square-meter (10.8-square-foot) slab of raw granite that is 8 millimetres thick (31 inches) sells for US$50 to US$60. It is usually more expensive to buy black granite that is processed and polished in Zimbabwe than to buy slabs that are processed and polished elsewhere because the equipment used elsewhere is more efficient, according to experts.

In 2018, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube instituted a 5% tax on the sale of all raw granite, to encourage local beneficiation and value addition.

However, some buyers are said to be wary of black granite that comes in any form that is not raw as some sellers have a tendency of using artificial hardeners which leads to cracking of the stone over time.

According to the Global Press Journal, mostly Mutoko granite was used in the construction of the US$82m Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, Denmark, which measures 21 500m2.

The stone was reportedly supplied by an Italian company at a cost of US$9.12m in 2009 but the local authority got less than US$45 000 in tax royalties.

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