• Chrome production decreased 48% in 2015, coal 34% in same year
  • Mineral-export earnings decline 7.2% to $1.8 billion

Mineral-export revenue for Zimbabwe, which has the world’s biggest platinum reserves after South Africa, declined 7.2 percent in 2015 as commodity prices declined, the country’s Chamber of Mines said.

Revenue fell to $1.81 billion in 2015 from about $1.95 billion the previous year, the chamber, which represents producers, said in a report handed to reporters Thursday in the capital, Harare.

Mining is the biggest source of foreign exchange for Zimbabwe, which also has chrome, gold and iron ore. The Bloomberg Commodity Index, a measure of returns on 22 raw materials, touched the lowest level since its inception in 1991 this month as consumption growth slows in China, the biggest buyer.

“Business sentiment in the mining industry is pessimistic and the level of confidence low,” the chamber said in its 2015 State of the Mining Industry Survey Report. The industry is “more concerned with political, policy and regulatory risk than conventional business risk.”

Chrome output slumped 48 percent to 211,000 metric tons after the country’s biggest miner of the mineral, Sinosteel Corp.’s Zimasco, fired most of its employees and closed most furnaces at its Kwekwe-based ferrochrome smelter. Zimbabwe Alloys Ltd., the second-biggest chrome miner, also limited production, buying ore mainly from small-scale independent diggers.

Coal output declined 34 percent to 4.2 million tons as the country’s biggest producer, Hwange Colliery Co., battled debt and aging equipment. Diamond production, which boomed in 2012 and 2013 on discoveries in eastern Zimbabwe, fell 30 percent to 3,360 carats. Gold production increased 30 percent to 20,000 kilograms (643,000 ounces).

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