Chrome miners say the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe was refusing to release the money to exporters, ostensibly because exports of chrome had been barred.
A Kwekwe-based chrome miner said his export earnings had been received prior to the banning of lump chrome ore. But still the MMCZ refused to give him the money.
Zimbabwe and South Africa hold about 90 percent of the world's chromite reserves, according to the U S Geological Survey.
The miner, who declined to be named fearing victimisation, said he had exported lump chrome ore to SA before the ban came into force. He referred this reporter to four other miners who confirmed they have still not been paid.
"They are stealing our money, it’s State theft," said the fuming miner. The government says the ban, which has hit exports to China and South Africa, is meant to aid beneficiation and create jobs.
There are three large-scale ferrochrome miners in the country, including Zimbabwe Alloys and Zimasco, which is owned by China's Sinosteel.
Zimasco made a $300 million investment in the second half of 2011 to ramp up output and build a new smelter. Zimbabwe already has three smelters with the capacity to handle 1.5 million tonnes of chrome.
Miners said they had no beef with the government plan, but wanted payment which is due to them for goods sold before the ban came into force.
Deputy minister of Mines and Mining Development, Gift Chimanikire said the MMCZ should release the money to the miners if they have an export licence.
"As far as the ministry of Mines is concerned, if you have exported and you were given an export licence, you are entitled to the proceeds of your sales," he said. "We have not given a directive to the Mining Corporation of Zimbabwe to withhold any receipts that are going through their offices. It is not our policy that we withhold any payments that are due to any exporter. But if it was an illegal export after the window, it is a loss."
The ban was first mooted by the ministry in November 2009 but exports were allowed for another 18 months to April 2011.
According to official figures, Zimbabwe exported 600,000 tonnes of chrome in the 18 months from November 2009, mostly to China and South Africa.Post published in: News