Lupane gas extraction begins

Lupane gas extraction begins
Published: 24 July 2014
MINES and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday said the extraction of coal-bed methane gas in Lupane has begun, describing the development as "historic".

Addressing delegates to the ongoing 2014 Mine Entra Conference in Bulawayo, Minister Chidhakwa said Cabinet had approved strategies aimed at promoting value addition and beneficiation in the mining sector to grow the economy in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).

He said in order to drive the economy forward, Cabinet agreed to prioritise value addition and beneficiation in the diamond sector, implementing the coal-bed methane gas project in Lupane, as well as promoting mineral beneficiation on resources such as iron ore, chrome, coal, and nickel deposits.

"In Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday), we agreed that we institute and implement the three. We cannot continue exporting our rough diamonds without value addition but to sell polished diamonds. Over the last two months, we have been looking at negotiations with investors for our diamonds," said Minister Chidhakwa.

"We are looking at the possibility of trading diamonds for value addition. We know there are people (foreign market) that have the experience for manufacturing jewellery and extensive marketing of jewellery, we want to sell to you our diamonds; we must have a foot print to say a certain percentage is going as polished diamonds; a certain percentage is also going out as Zimbabwe jewellery. Let me assure you that we have done a sufficient amount of work in that regard."

He said the second area that government was prioritising was the coal-bed methane gas project in Lupane.

"We have started pumping the gas out of Lupane, a true historical moment . . . the gas will be used for the production of energy and fertiliser. We also see the significant development of the petrol-chemical industry as we purify the gas," Minister Chidhakwa said, adding that the third area of focus was naturally-driven resources such as chrome, coal and nickel deposits.

As the government forges ahead with value addition and beneficiation, he said the ban on raw chrome export would be kept in place.

He said the government was also looking at restructuring his ministry as well as computerising systems to eliminate corruption as well as improving efficiency and mineral output.

"The raw chrome ban is there to stay. We will not allow the export of raw chrome as that will defeat the objectives set out in the Zim-Asset and the objective of building a strong steel industry. We want to attract companies that are looking for raw chrome to come to Zimbabwe.

Yes raw chrome will give us quick bucks but that doesn't give us a sustained future," he said.

A few years ago, following the ban on chrome ore exports, concerns were raised by players in the sector that the government should consider lifting the ban as it was killing the viability of the chrome sector.

He said the government was also looking at restructuring his ministry as well as computerising systems to eliminate corruption and improve efficiency and output in the mining sector.

The mining sector is the leading economic mainstay for the country contributing 16 percent to the Gross Domestic Product and constituting 50 percent of Zimbabwe's export receipts.
- Oliver Kazunga I chronicle
Tags: Lupane, Gas,


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