‘Innovation, collaboration keys to sustainable mining industry’

Dr Jenfan Muswere

COLLABORATION and innovation in the mining value chain are critical in promoting a sustainable industry, which is vital for economic growth, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary Mr Pfungwa Kunaka has said.

The mining industry is one of Zimbabwe’s economic mainstays with the sector presently contributing about 70 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings.

The sector procures a diverse range of inputs including protective clothing, consumables, explosives, transport services, drilling, and construction materials, most of which are being imported as the local manufacturing industry is falling short of adequately supplying critical components for the productive sectors.

Suppliers and mining companies are, therefore, urged to come up with smart synergies, where businesses invest not only in downstream industries but upstream industries as well.

In his speech, which was read on his behalf by the ministry’s chief director of technical affairs, Mr Charles Tahwa at the 2023 Mining Industry Suppliers Forum yesterday, Mr Kunaka said the mining industry will continue to play a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s economy.

He, however, said it is important that the industry is committed to innovation, collaboration, environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic development.

“Suppliers need to work closely with miners to understand their needs and develop solutions that meet those needs and policy pronouncements, particularly in value addition and beneficiation.

“Miners should be willing to work with suppliers to test and implement new technologies,” said the Permanent Secretary.

“Innovation and collaboration are the keys to a sustainable mining industry. Only through working together, suppliers and miners can ensure that the mining industry continues to play a vital role in our economy for many years to come.”

This year’s forum ran under the sub-theme: “Addressing Challenges Affecting Suppliers of the Mining Industry.”

Mr Kunaka noted that the mining industry suppliers should take advantage of the current growth in the mining sector and seize the inherent opportunities.

 “I am glad to report that since the coming in of the Second Republic, the mining sector has been on a tremendous upward growth trajectory. To put it into perspective, the sector grew from a US$2,7 billion sector in 2017 to a US$5,4 billion sector in 2022, translating to a 100 percent growth in export revenue,” he said.

“Expectantly, as the mining sector grows, it should have positive ripple effects to the whole economy. In line with the President’s pronouncement of not leaving no one and no place behind, we therefore need to foster stronger linkages between the mining sector and other sectors of the economy for the benefit of our country.”

 Mr Kunaka said it is pleasing to note that the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines and many local mining companies have already embraced local procurement of goods and services where applicable.

Speaking at the same forum, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Permanent Secretary Dr Thomas Utete Wushe said there is a need to promote linkages between the mining and manufacturing sectors leveraging on the long-standing relationships that local suppliers and mining companies have with external suppliers, partners and original equipment manufacturers.

He said a greater interface between the mining and manufacturing sectors would greatly benefit not only the two sectors but also the national economy.

“There are potentially tremendous opportunities for backward linkages. I would, therefore, want to implore the manufacturing sector (the suppliers) to work closely with the mining sector to spearhead the implementation of various programmes that some mining houses have already started promoting,” he said.

Dr Wushe said local entrepreneurship, through initiatives such as local enterprise development programmes and industrial linkages by establishing companies with foreign suppliers, should spearhead rural industrialisation. 

Chronicle

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