Legal wrangles over the ownership of Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) are stalling the revival of the once vibrant asbestos mining firms, a Cabinet minister has said. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu last Friday said the government-controlled Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) was ready to resuscitate SMM.
The ownership of the mines has been the source of a fierce battle between businessman Mutumwa Mawere and the government. The businessman lost control of his business empire in 2004 after he was specified following accusations of externalising proceeds from asbestos exports.
ZMDC was last year tasked by the Mines ministry to revive the two mines in Zvishavane and Mashava. “ZMDC is ready, funding is available and investors are always knocking at our door, but there are court papers,” Mpofu said.
“I believe this will be a thing of the past.”
He said it was now up to the government to intervene to allow the operations to begin. Turnall Holdings marketing director, Edwin Kondo, said the country was spending at least $12 million importing asbestos fibre from Brazil and other countries when local mines could produce the fibre.
“This is one of the things that can capacitate the value chain, we spend three days talking about Buy Zimbabwe, but the power is in our own hands,” Kondo said. Mpofu said the government was there to formulate policies influenced by stakeholders. Turning to diamonds, Mpofu said the country must add value to its gems.
“In Buy Zimbabwe, let’s go deeper on how we can produce 80% products which are Zimbabwean,” Mpofu said. He accused mining giant De Beers and African Consolidated Resources (ACR) of looting the country’s diamonds.
“De Beers traded lots of diamond concentrate and they became the biggest diamond producer,” he claimed. “Where are the diamonds that were collected by the 50 000 people, what happened to the collection if everyone was coming with a kg of ore?”
Mpofu also commended on the relocation of people from Marange diamond fields, which he said had progressed smoothly. He said the process was at times hindered by people who did not want to see good things happen by influencing the resettled people not to leave their original homes. NewsDay