Plummeting chrome ore prices on the international market owing to oversupply are threatening the viability of small scale miners.

China, which is currently the only market for Zimbabwe, has more than 2 million metric tonnes, while Southern Africa has more than 1 million metric tonnes of the commodity.

The ore also takes about 90 days to ship to China.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation spokesperson, Mr Dosman Mangisi said chrome prices are expected to stabilise and firm up in about six months and lamented that the oversupply of the commodity, which has seen the prices falling from US$200 per tonne to US$90 per tonne.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Gweru chrome miners indaba, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) Deputy General Manager, Mr Masimba Chandavengera said small scale miners have no capacity to wait for the international prices to firm up but called for a balance that will ensure that when the international market is subdued, the local market such as smelters, is able to buy the ore at competitive prices that do not prejudice the miners.

Chrome miners in Zimbabwe, a landlocked country, are also finding it very expensive to ship their chrome to Asia and this has left them exposed to exploitation by some Asian buyers who pay less for their chrome.