Local chrome miners and ferrochrome producers are beginning to feel the heat following the fall in global prices of the commodity, amid fears that thousands of people in the industry could lose jobs as dealers hold on to the product for speculative purposes.

According to Fastmarkets, global prices for high-carbon ferrochrome fell by US$51 per tonne at the beginning of last month to around US$951980 dollars per tonne in China, a huge blow to local producers as the commodity began the year on a negative pricing trend.

A visit to some mining sites in the Midlands Province proved that miners are sitting on piles of chrome ore and ferrochrome, amid indications that dealers are speculating for an upward adjustment in pricing as demand for the product is expected to rise in the face of non-availability of the product on the market.

Spokesperson for Wel Mine, Mr Privilege Hwende said there are fears that people might begin to lose jobs in the industry if the situation does not change, while a small scale miner, Mr Sam Mapanzure called for a special arrangement in the procurement of fuel in the face of power outages for miners to remain viable.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation Vice President, Mr Marufu Sithole said although there are market problems in the chrome sector, miners are happy that the government ended the multi-currency regime through Statutory Instrument 142 as they can now buy mining equipment without a hustle.

“Yes indeed we are facing challenges after the drop in global prices of chrome in general. However, as chrome miners, we want to applaud the government for scrapping the multi-currency system as we were the most affected when it came to the procurement of the necessary equipment needed for us to do our work,” he said.

China, which is Zimbabwe’s biggest market for chrome, reduced domestic spot ferro-chrome prices after domestic suppliers reduced their offer prices, amid weaker demand following the release of lower June tenders, sparking an outcry by local producers who feel the move is meant to suffocate development in African economies.