ZMDC to start mining asbestos

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation said next month it would start mining asbestos at the Shabanie Mashava Mines.

ZMDC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, last Friday said SMM had been at the centre of a protracted ownership wrangle between former owner Mutumwa Mawere and the government. It is now under the ZMDC.

The mine is reportedly sitting on reserves that could be exploited for the next 20 years. By assuming ownership of SMM, ZMDC took the responsibility of paying the workers who had gone for years without salaries.

Before it was transferred to ZMDC, SMM had been under judicial management for two years. The mine stopped operating in 2008, rendering almost 3 000 workers jobless. Masimirembwa said mining operations at Mashava and Shabanie mines would restart next month and both mines would be recapitalised in phases.

“Shabanie Mashava Mine will be ticking soon,” he said. “In a few weeks we will start mining at SMM. We want to revive it on a piecemeal basis.”

Masimirembwa noted that massive financial investment would be required to revive the mine. ZMDC is now conducting an evaluation to determine how much money would be needed to revitalise the asbestos mine.

“An exercise is going on with our forensic auditors to determine how much is needed to recapitalise Shabanie Mashava Mine,” he said.

SMM, once one of Africa's largest asbestos producers, had access to markets in the US, UK, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, India, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, China and Indonesia. Last year, the mine reportedly failed to deliver 200 000 tonnes of asbestos for an order estimated at $105 million.

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