THE Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is set to regulate domestic chrome ore sales following price distortions in the sector.
According to Statutory Instrument (SI) 111 of 1983 — Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (Exemption) Regulation 1983 section 3, local chrome sales are exempt from regulation by the MMCZ.
“However, in light of the challenges being experienced by chrome miners, MMCZ intends to cancel the exemption for chrome ore (lumpy ore and concentrates/fines) domestic sales in line with section 6 of the same SI,” the MMCZ said in a statement.
“The corporation is currently working towards establishing the necessary infrastructure and modalities of bringing the domestic sales under its ambit.” MMCZ added, while, however, noting that the current minimum prices would prevail.
Export price for lumpy ore last week was around US$64 per tonne for grades 37% to 40%, while miners shipping chrome ore graded between 41% and 42% were earning US$70 and US$75, respectively.
For concentrates, grades ranging from 38% to 46% fetched US$112 per tonne. Grade 47% fetched US$114 per tonne, while ore in grade 48% received US$116 per tonne.
Market data also showed that ore falling in grade 49% was fetching US$125 per tonne, while that classified under grade 50% was fetching US$134 per tonne.
Chrome miners have been crying foul over under-pricing of Zimbabwean ore by multinational smelting companies.
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As a result, chrome miners appealed to the government not to widen the export ban to include raw chrome fines.
The chrome ore fines were exempted from the previous ban on raw chrome exports.
Miners claimed that the fundamentals were not yet right for the ban on chrome fines, considering the experiences of the current ban on raw chrome exports, which has seen smelting firms colluding to set prices that disadvantage miners.
Chinese smelting companies, which take the bulk of Zimbabwe’s chrome ore, have been paying about US$40 per tonne.
A major local chrome smelting firm has been paying about US$38 with a component in local currency at interbank rate.
Global prices are ranging between US$150 and US$200 per tonne.