Challenges faced by chrome miners in the middle dyke
By Shelton Lucas
Chrome is a base mineral, and by doing so, there’s a quantitative approach rather than a qualitative one. In the middle dyke, the chrome formation is stratiform and, in rare cases, in the hills, there are some small podiformula formations. The stripping ratio for stratiform is a bit on the high side. There are three predominant seams, namely seam one, which is colloquially called the butter belt, and it is prone to faulting. Seam two is colloquially called the sugar belt. It’s not prone to faulting, but it’s very much hydrophilic, meaning it’s very much embedded in water, and it is very expensive to mine since water pumps will be needed to pump water to create a conducive condition for the extraction of chrome.
The third seam is hunger. It’s called that because of its low quality. It’s always rejected by the Chinese buyers. There are two Chinese companies currently operating in the Ngezi area, both buying chrome. This is very bad for artisanal miners operating in that area because they are subjected to predatory pricing, which is in turn extortionate. The two companies operating in Ngezi are Attex Mining and Afrochine. Afrochine mining has Chinese personnel who do not understand our country’s official language, English. That communication barrier also helps the Chinese get away with racism.
At Attex, there are more locals in charge, but they are very corrupt in terms of accessing hauling trucks for your chrome to be ferried. The management is also involved in personal mining businesses, thereby having an undue influence on the allocation of haulage mini trucks to the artisanal miners, becoming prejudicial to them. With the downward spiral in terms of chrome prices, the miners are subjected to bribing the drivers to get their ore transported to get transported to the aforementioned company for payment after the weighbridge. We have the Avery in Zimbabwe, which is the calibration watchdog.
They are supposed to issue a calibration certificate every month. These companies wantonly calibrate their weighbridges to their advantage, thereby prejudicing miners. These companies are also involved in illegal activities where they buy chrome mined illegally from jurisdictions that are either waiting for certificates Chrome is not a product that can be replenished ifit is extinguished, and the rightful owners will be permanently disenfranchised when they receive their certificates. There is a need for the establishment of a CID minerals flora and fauna for quick reaction in disputes and thefts of ore because a lot of unscrupulous miners are claiming jurisdictions without any justification and are claiming some of the jurisdictions to be theirs.
There are a lot of notorious mine owners that decoy investors known as sponsors. They bring equipment and working capital and get screwed up without realizing a return on their investment. These miners’ prey on new investors without any remorse. It is the duty of the local associations to red-flag these individuals. The two companies act in cahoots to determine the price of chrome without determining the market forces. Attex plays a middle man role. I wonder how and why the foreign companies are allowed to do so.