Zimbabwe’s mining industry facing ‘sluggish’ year, chamber says

Zimbabwe’s mining industry faces a “sluggish” year with little expansion, the country’s mining body said.

Mining companies are focusing on short-term strategies rather than planning for major projects because of low global commodity prices and tight liquidity in the southern African nation, Isaac Kwesu, chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines, said by phone on Thursday from the capital, Harare.

The chamber will publish a report on the state of the industry this month, he said. South African companies have put new and expansion projects in Zimbabwe on hold, Johannesburg- based Business Report said, citing the organization.

Zimbabwe has the largest known deposits of platinum and chrome after neighbor South Africa. Miners also dig for coal, diamonds, nickel and gold. The country is suffering its worst liquidity crisis yet, with the government and some private companies struggling to pay monthly wages, while the worst drought in about two decades may divert money to food imports.

Sinosteel Co. unit Zimasco closed most of its smelting capacity and mines on the chrome-rich Great Dyke mountain range, Kwesu said. Zimasco applied for judicial management Jan. 8 after failing to service $65 million of debt.

The National Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe will probably seek a 10 percent wage increase for 2016, Kwesu said. Calls to the union’s office in Harare weren’t answered.