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A ZEST FOR ZIMBABWE

Moti diversifies mining portfolio By Nelendhre Moodley Since taking office last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s focus has been on reactivating Zimbabwe’s economy through attractive policy measures. As such more investors, including the Moti Group, are keen to play a role in reinvigorating the country’s economy, Moti Group chairman Zunaid Moti tells SA Mining. In his inaugural speech, Mnangagwa pledged the relaxation of export procedures, and the reduction of “all costs associated with the conduct of international trade”. “The fabulous natural resources we have as a country must now be exploited for national good, through mutually gainful partnerships with international investors whose presence, in our midst, must be valued and secured,” he said. According to Moti, apart from the favourable policy environment and ease of doing business, Zimbabwe offers attractive tax incentives to investors, including tax breaks for up to five years. Recent foreign investment into the beleaguered southern African country include China’s offer of a package amounting to close to $2billion to Zimbabwe, and the European Union’s proposed assistance in formulating policies to turn the country’s economic fortunes around. Given this positive outlook, the Moti Group has undertaken a multipronged mining strategy, which apart from chrome, includes diamond beneficiation and agriculture initiatives in Zimbabwe. Before yearend, the company has promised to double current chrome production from 30 000tpa to 60 000tpa, have a fully established diamond polishing plant, and become a significant contributor to Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector. The Moti Group has interests in transport and logistics, aviation, security services, risk management, property development and mining. Zunaid Mod. CHROME CONTENDER “There is no substitute for chrome, which is used in the production of stainless steel, and as long as the world is growing there will be demand for chrome. The largest consumer of chrome, China, and developing regions, will be the key drivers for demand,” says Moti. Interestingly, the United Nations projects world population to reach 8.5bn by 2030, on the back of growth in developing countries, which means greater infrastructure investment to meet population demand. Meanwhile, underpinned by positive chrome market forecasts, African Chrome Fields ACF, a division of the Johannesburgbased Moti Group, is looking to increase chrome production from its Zimbabwe operations to 1 million tonnes per annum as early as the end of 2019. The company’s chrome operations are located at Chinyika Ranch, some 68km outside Kwekwe, along the Great Dyke of Zimbabwe. Chrome is used primarily in the production of highstrength alloys which are heat, abrasion, corrosion and oxidationresistant. Around half of all chromite production goes into the manufacture of stainless steel. According to Moti, ACF is the first alluvial chrome mine in the world with an onsurface rich highgrade orebody. “The ore runs from the surface to a depth of 1.8m.” So attractive is ACF’s chrome grades that only product from Kazakhstan surpasses it in quality given its higher chrometoiron ratio, he says. ACF currently produces only one grade of product which is marketed as a highgrade metallurgical concentrate. The current product specification is +50% Cr203 and 2.0 CrFe. The company is also in the process of devising plans to produce a chemical product as well as other specialised products which will add more value to the operation. ACF currently has six operational chrome beneficiation plants. The seventh wash plant will be fully commissioned during the first half of 2018. It is also busy constructing an exothermic ultralowcarbon FeCr operation which will be operational during mid2018. “Zimbabwe has significant chrome reserves exceeding those of Turkey, Russia and Kazakhstan combined. It currently produces 20% of the world’s chrome with the potential to significantly ramp up production,” Moti says. Key chrome suppliers include South Africa the number one global chrome producer and exporter, Kazakhstan, Turkey, India and more recently Zimbabwe. According to Moti, ACF is looking to ramp up production to at least 850 000tpa by the end of 2018 which will include 50 000 to 60 000t of concentrates from the ACF operation together with around 20 000tpm of lumpy product sourced from Command Mining a communitybased arrangement set up by the Moti Group to source product from local smallscale miners. ACF, which employs around 1 200 people, has a strategic joint beneficiation and marketing offtake agreement that runs to 2030 with diversified natural resource company Glencore. “The joint venture ensures price stability by making sure that big producers avoid engaging in a price war with smaller players,” he says. A STRATEGY TO DIVERSIFY In a bid to fasttrack its diamond strategy, the Moti Group is in the process of coopting skilled diamond polishers from India and Indonesia, to train locals in the art of diamond polishing. “The diamond project is under way and we are looking to initially hire 100 people, with room to expand as the project grows. We believe that this initiative will go a long way to absorbing the unemployed.” PASSIONATE ABOUT PEOPLE As part of its corporate social initiatives programme, Moti has injected in excess of R2million into the development of a 250student school, located onsite at ACF’s operation. “The school is nearing completion and will be handed over to government by June.” The Moti Group also rolled out a clinic and upgraded road infrastructure in the surrounding area and is investing $100m in the establishment of Command Mining. This local mining initiative will provide equipment and upskill smallscale miners in chrome production. ACF will buy the final product from local producers. •

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