Middlemen distorting chrome prices: ZMF

THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has called on Government to deal ruthlessly with middlemen, accusing them of manipulating chrome prices thereby short-changing small scale producers.

A senior official at ZMF, the umbrella body of all small scale miners in the country, Mr Makumba Nyenje, said miners were not getting a fair value for their produce as dubious middlemen were on the prowl.

“Currently there are a number of agents operating on behalf of smelters approaching miners who they know are desperate to sell their chrome in order to keep their operations alive,” said Mr Nyenje.

“Prices are as low as $20 per tonne at a time when the international market prices are around $220 in China for the same grade and quality of ores.”

A chrome miner based in Guruve, Mrs Lindi Mpofu, also cried foul saying the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has failed the chrome miners.

She further disclosed some of the names of the six middlemen companies buying the chrome at low prices to Business Chronicle.

“MMCZ, who are tasked with regulating the domestic market prices in addition to export pricing, have failed repeatedly to intervene in the market,” she said.

“This is despite the fact that they are aware of the predatory buying prices taking place in the market as reports date back to 2016.”

MMCZ corporate communications executive, Mrs Pretty Musonza, in response, said a pricing consultative committee has been set to deal with chrome ore pricing.

“A committee to deal with pricing problems has been set comprising the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, MMCZ, Apple Bridge and small scale producers of lumpy and concentrate.

“The committee is responsible for setting a minimum price threshold,” she said.

Mrs Musonza said MMCZ had been following the cost insurance and freight (CIF) China pricing model to the satisfaction of producers and major investors in the chrome ore sector.

“MMCZ at all times strives to maximise returns to the producers by ensuring that the export price is not below the production costs and that it is in line with market dictates thus increasing export revenue to both the producers and the nation at large,” she said.

“It is, however, noteworthy that the corporation faces challenges from a few minor middlemen or traders who are bent on externalising foreign currency earnings through transfer pricing.”

Mrs Musonza said MMCZ was there to deal with underhand dealings such as transfer pricing, under invoicing and related problems.

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