Chromium: Slower ramp-up of Zimbabwean ore production in H1 2019

African Chrome Fields (ACF) in Zimbabwe has reportedly halted alluvial chrome ore operations since March 2019 during a restructuring exercise. According to ACF, the restructuring is focussing on improving efficiency and profitability to operate within uncertain economic and financial conditions within Zimbabwe. 

In addition, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has expressed concerns over a high rate of disputes among small-scale chrome miners regarding the claim of mining rights. In 2015, small-scale miners operating under tributary arrangements with Zimasco and ZimAlloys gained access to chromium claims after the government ordered the two companies to cede half of their chromium claim portfolios. Ownership of claims have been continuously disputed since and many disputes have been held up in courts, causing inefficient operations and ongoing illegal mining.

Roskill view: In June 2015, the Zimbabwean government lifted a ban on exports and a 20% export tax on ores, while raising the royalty rate from 2% to 5%, resulting in revitalised Zimbabwean chrome ore supply to the global market. In 2018, Zimbabwe regained its position as the fifth largest chrome ore producing country ahead of Finland. Political changes in 2018 caused an air of optimism around the future of Zimbabwean commodities, however, ongoing political, social and infrastructural challenges remain the greatest barrier to growth in the domestic market.

Zimbabwe has stated a goal of 1.9Mt chrome ore production in 2019 and further growth in ore supply to over 3Mt by 2022. As of April 2019, a reported 0.5Mt of chrome ore had been produced, already falling nearly 20% short of the 1.9Mt annual target, while still on track to achieve year-on-year growth.  

Roskill’s new report,  Chromium: Outlook to 2029, 15th Edition is out now. The report provides detailed historical analysis and 10-year forecasts of chromium production, consumption and prices as well as an in-depth examination of consumption across all end-uses including steel alloys, chromium chemicals, foundry applications and refractory applications.  For more information contact Nils Backeberg: nils@roskill.com