Zimbabwe has asked two ferrochrome producers, including a unit of China's Sinosteel Corp Ltd, who own 80 percent of all chrome mining claims to release some ground for distribution to new investors, the mines minister said on Wednesday.
Zimbabwe holds the world's second largest deposits of chrome, which is smelted to produce ferrochrome, a raw material used in the making of stainless steel.
Walter Chidhakwa said Zimbabwe had more than 950 million in chrome reserves, most of which are held by Sinosteel's Zimasco, and Zimbabwe Alloys, which Anglo American sold to local businessmen in 2006.
Chidhakwa said just as the government had forced Zimbabwe's biggest platinum producer Zimplats to release ground with 36 million ounces worth of resource in 2006, the two ferrochrome producers had been asked to do the same.
"What we are saying is that we want to have more players in the chrome sector," Chidhakwa told a mining conference.
"We are in discussions with the companies and the expectation is that we will come up with a new structure which will enable us to also begin then to allocate chrome claims to others who also want to go into the claim sector," he said.
Chidhakwa said the two companies would be left with enough mining claims that would meet their production targets.
In 2014 Zimbabwe produced 260,000 tonnes of high-carbon ferrochrome, which was 2.3 percent of global output. Zimasco produced 68 percent of Zimbabwe's ferrochrome in 2014.
Chidhakwa in June temporarily lifted a ban on raw chrome exports introduced four years ago and scrapped a 20 percent export tax on the metal, as the government aims to boost earnings from a struggling sector.