By Zunaid Moti
As has been the case for over a century, mining offers a gateway to economic prosperity, both here and in our neighbouring countries.
For this reason, I hope that this year’s Mining Indaba serves to encourage local investors to focus on opportunities within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Africa in general, and play a role in strengthening trade linkages and ties between our countries.
Regionalisation offers numerous benefits for bottom lines by unlocking larger markets, economies of scale, and production efficiencies. Beyond this, Africa is home to over 1.4 billion people, of whom many are young and of a working-age. It is also home to 30% of the world’s mineral reserves. Together, despite the challenges, these ingredients represent a powerful mixture that could ignite both business and broader economic growth, and in turn fuel job creation, lifting living standards across the continent.
African Chrome Fields (ACF) stands as a case study in this regard. ACF is a private, black-owned mining company, based in Zimbabwe but headquartered in South Africa, which operates hundreds of alluvial chrome mining concessions across Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke region. Since entering the chromium extraction sector in 2014, the company’s output has steadily risen, with more than 24,000 tons of chromite being produced per month.
Over the years, ACF has injected hundreds of millions of US dollars into Zimbabwe’s economy, and with the recent launch of a mineral beneficiation plant, has synchronised with Zimbabwe’s growing emphasis on local mineral processing. The debut of this beneficiation plant, with its world-first aluminothermic process, has turned heads in the mining industry, placing our company and Zimbabwe itself at the forefront of mining technology.
Escaping an ‘island’ mentality
No man and indeed, no country, is an island. Whether it’s individuals, companies, or countries, all of us benefit from the exchange of ideas, services and products. In the case of ACF’s investments in Zimbabwe, the immediate and visible benefit is that of enriching Zimbabwe’s economy, and the employment prospects of its citizens.
ACF currently employs more than 800 individuals, from labour to managerial levels, and also supplies ongoing training to its staff, in order to facilitate skills transfer. We offer housing and meals to labourers, in addition to medical facilities. ACF has also established a local community school, accommodating more than 250 learners, as well as a clinic for the community’s benefit. So, where there was previously little more than barren land, there is now key infrastructure and a steadily growing community.
As investors and business leaders, we see that the potential for profits in the mining sector is clear. But we also need to see the bigger picture; that of enriching the continent, and specifically sub-Saharan Africa, whose economies have been under pressure.
Our cross-border investment has fostered economic growth, strengthened regional ties, and brought better living standards to employees and dependents in both countries. Clearly, it’s a win-win scenario, on both sides of the border divide.
Zunaid Moti is the chairman and Country Representative of African Chrome Fields.