TRADITIONAL leaders in Mberengwa, in the Midlands Province, have urged mining behemoth Kuvimba Mining House (KMH), which runs Sandawana Mines in the district, to build enough infrastructure for the community.
Senator Chief Ngungumbane, who also serves on the chief council, told journalists at the stakeholder engagement event in Mberengwa on Sunday that the area requires decent roads, medical facilities, clean water, and other fundamental infrastructure.
“On behalf of the people of Mberengwa, we expect Kuvimba to engage the district because lithium and it’s associated resources are found in this district,” he said.
“We expect Kuvimba, as they have done, to employ locals. They have said 80% of the people are coming from this district and 20% are people with special expertise.
“But, we would want to challenge Kuvimba that we have our own sons and daughters of this district that provide services, it could be catering, movement of the precious stone and so forth, to first consider and empower them.”
He added: “People of Mberengwa should be the first one to benefit and then everybody else. We expect them to develop this area. This area looks very remote. It does not befit the status of Sandawana and that of Kuvimba.
“So, we expect them to develop proper infrastructure developments, your clinics, your hospitals, your schools, and would want them to be world class,” the chief said.
“We want them to establish essential services here. People shouldn’t be going to Zvishavane to buy basic necessities like soap and sugar. We expect that they develop this area, then your banks and other services can come here.”
He also implored the mining giant to develop water infrastructure, adding that villagers were walking long distances searching for precious liquid.
“Mberengwa is a very dry area. We expect Kuvimba to improve people’s source of livelihoods,” he said.
“We want, in the medium and short term, our partners to provide water at the doorstep of every household. We are also saying, as part of social corporate responsibility, besides a provision of clinic, we expect them to tar our major roads.”
Sandawana Mines general manager Godwin Gambiza told NewsDay Business in an interview recently that the company has committed to invest a total of US$110 million towards road maintenance works.
“On the road itself, the process of selecting a contractor to work on the road construction and rehabilitation has since been finalised and the mobilisation is now beginning to happen,” he said.
“The constructor is now starting to mobilise the equipment that is going to work towards the road rehabilitation.” Gambiza also said they committed to developing schools and health care facilities in the district.
KMH, which is 65% owned by the government, took over Sandawana Mines in 2019 and has so far invested US$56 million into the lithium mining asset.
The mine is rich in vast mineral resources that include tantalite, mica, emeralds, copper and gold.
It commenced mining operations in the 1950s as an emerald mine. It has changed hands over its long history.
KMH is set to sink US$50 million on a four-phased extensive exploration programme at its Sandawana mining lease, to determine total lithium resources and associated minerals.
The firm is also expected to invest US$250 million on the construction of a beneficiation plant at Sandawana Mines.
Feasibility studies for a 4,5 million-tonne per annum beneficiation plant are underway.
The company commenced lithium open-pit mining operations in January this year, and to date, it has mined and stockpiled over 600 000 tonnes of high-grade lithium ore, valued at over US$216 million.
KMH is an investment and holding company of mining entities working in special minerals, energy minerals, and base metals acquired the asset.