Farayi Machamire 13 May 2017
HARARE – Government will soon inject $15 million into the resuscitation of
Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM), Mines and Mining Development minister Walter
Chidakwa has said.
This comes after government secured asbestos markets in Russia and
Chidakwa told the Senate on Thursday a government delegation had also
secured a new market in India for the supply of 50 000 tonnes of asbestos
Shabanie Mine in Zvishavane and Gaths Mine in Mashaba closed in 2008, four
years after government seized control of the mines from former shareholder
Chidakwa said as far as equipment for the mines was concerned, the bill
for the purchase of earth-moving equipment had been included under the
ministry’s small scale mining equipment scheme.
“So, there will be some money that will be outlaid from that small scale
facility, but there will also be some $15 million that we are
“I will be finalising the details with the minister of Finance next week
so that we can move forward,” Chidakwa said.
On the issue of Shabanie Mine workers receiving $50 salaries, Chidakwa
admitted the paltry amount was not enough.
“I think the $50 is just an amount to give people so that they have
something to use,” he said.
“It is not enough and it can never be enough. I think that it is
important, as you rightly said, to resuscitate the activities of SMM and
the actions that I talked about, we will deal with those issues.”
“For a long time, SMM was under judicial management and we have received
various proposals from the judicial manager as to how he saw the
resuscitation of the mine.
“To a lot of the proposals, we did say no, but we did agree to a situation
where the SMM would reduce some of its structures and be able to raise
some money which would then be pumped into the revival of Gaths Mine
initially,” Chidakwa said.
He said there was a strong lobby for adding chrysotile asbestos to a list
of substances recognised as particularly hazardous. Chrysotile, mined by
SMM, is the only type of asbestos that is still widely used, mainly in
building products in developing countries.
“You are aware that there has been a very strong lobby against the use of
asbestos and I am happy to say that a delegation arrived back home from
Geneva, where the meetings were held.
“I have information that the asbestos lobby, the continuation of the use
of asbestos got a reprieve and we will be able to continue, with the
support of Russia, Kazakhstan and a few other countries. That is the one
He added: “A delegation that we sent to India, went to look for the
markets and I am happy to say that we were able to establish a market of
50 000 tonnes per year, plus another 10 000 tonnes which ordinarily goes
to Turnall for the manufacture of asbestos sheets and so on.
“From a marketing point of view, I feel comfortable that we can proceed
perhaps not at the same level, because when the company closed, I am
advised that it was on 80 000 but we may be able to start on 60 000 and
see how we can move forward.”
Chidakwa said it has not been an easy walk.
“Not many people were keen to go into asbestos because of the big lobby,
not even financiers were ready to come on the table because they were not
so sure whether the company would be able to resuscitate and be able to
repay back their money.
“I want to assure you that now we have reached a stage where I can
confidently speak,” he said.