Small-scale chrome miners cry foul over exorbitant weighbridge costs
SMALL-SCALE chrome miners in Zimbabwe are crying foul over exorbitant weighbridge charges by the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) when exporting the mineral, saying that could kill the sector.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
According to a paper prepared by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Small Scale Chrome Miners (CZSSCM) member, Lindiwe Mpofu, VID weighbridges command an average of $60 per 34-tonne trucks to weigh in and another $60 to weigh out and if you are required to adjust the load a further $60 is charged.
“On average, you can expect to pay between $180 and $240 if you are required to adjust the load a second time, which is frequent, as there are no weighbridges at the mine sites,” she lamented.
“This translates to a weighbridge cost of between $5,46 per 33 metric tonne truck load of chrome ore to $7,27 per tonne.
“Currently, there are not enough weighbridges located at strategic mining areas creating extra cost in the diversion of trucks having to reroute to fulfil government obligations to weigh in and out at government VID weighbridges or risk being fined.”
Mpofu said in international trade terms that was unacceptable when factored into costing.
“To put this into perspective, on a 500 metric tonne shipment, VID commands in weighing charges of between $2 730 and $3 600 making it cost prohibitive to export,” she said.
Currently, Sadc regional weighbridge charges are between $25 and $30 to weigh in and out, equating to between 76 cents and 91 cents per tonne, which is between $380 and $455 per 500 metric tonne shipment.”
Mpofu said the regional pricing was in line with standard costing, as it is priced below a dollar per tonne.
She said there are a number of costs associated with the transportation of minerals, which included the trucking to port, unloading at the port, warehousing cost, testing quality of material received at port, movement from warehousing to shipping dock, then shipping to destination and arrival at end point.
“Weighing costs above a $1 per tonne make Zimbabwean chrome export transportation costs too high and places it above global market costing, making chrome exports unprofitable and undesirable to international buyers,” Mpofu continued.
She said they understood that VID seeks to raise funds to support roads and infrastructure development through weighbridge charges, but at the pricing regime deters both local and foreign companies from using its services.
“And the reason being their weighbridge charges prevent profitable commerce. Utilisation of weighbridges is currently minimal due to the fact that small scale miners, trucking services and exporters cannot afford the unprofitable cost for weighing in and out,” Mpofu said.