COMMUNITIES situated in areas where the US$1 billion steel plant in Chivhu is taking shape, are in line to benefit from massive opportunities from the project.
The investment, which will incorporate mining and beneficiation of iron ore, covers districts, three chiefdoms and three provinces (Midlands, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West). President Mnangagwa is expected to commission the project.
About 14 000 jobs will be created, with 4 000 employees to be engaged directly, while 10 000 jobs will be generated from downstream and upstream opportunities.
Mining will take place at the Chivhu/Manhize areas, with beneficiation in Mvuma and Chirumanzu.
Recently, the company implementing the project — Dinson Iron and Steel Company, a subsidiary of giant Chinese steelmaker Tsingshan Holdings — obtained the Environmental and Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate, a landmark development for the project.
Dinson will pioneer new technologies for the continuous monitoring of air pollution and control of dust, which will come at a huge cost that the company says it is all too happy to foot.
Mr Oliver Mutasa, the chief consultant who compiled the EIA assessment report, said the company has established a good rapport with the community.
“The communities themselves can testify to this.There are always positive and negative impacts with projects of this size, but the most important thing is that the economic benefits outweigh the negatives.
“Also, our plan to mitigate the negative impacts have been accepted by regulatory authorities and the community.”
The company will use both land and cash compensation for the displaced.
“The proposed operations are planned to take place in phases, with the first phase not involving physical relocations. However, some economic displacements will be treated through cash payments as a method of compensation,” he said.
“Fifteen farmers fall in phased relocation. A Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) will be properly done after the Government has finalised the land identification process, to which affected farmers will be relocated.”
The six farmers that have been affected this farming season will be compensated “with cash payments equivalent to lost production as of this current season”.
The decision was reached after consultation between the consultant, Government departments and the affected farmers, who are set to be paid $320 000 per hectare per season.
Mr Mutasa said it was untrue that 800 families will be displaced.
“Yes, there are about 800 families in the ward as per population census, but it’s not everyone who is going to be affected,” he said.
“Although the grant covers a large area, operations will be restricted to a small area, which will affect only 15 farmers in phases.”
The steel plant is expected to become the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa with an annual turnover of US$1,5 billion.
Expectant villagers are naturally excited.
Chief Ernest Mushava of Chikomba told The Sunday Mail his people will benefit from the investment.
“We are very happy. It’s a big project and we have been waiting for it for a long time,” he said.
“We are particularly excited with the amount of employment creation and infrastructure development that comes with the project.
“We are aware of the negative impact, but the company has given us assurances of their corrective steps and we have no doubt in our mind that they will keep their promise,” Chief Mushava said.
“I must make this point that the Chinese have always been open and frank with us.
“You can see that they are genuine people because they go straight to the point and always make corrections whenever they have differences with the community.”
Another traditional leader, Chief Chirumhanzu (Mr Fidelis Mudzengi), said it was clear that the benefits that would naturally accrue from the project would outweigh the negatives.
“This project will create employment for the youths in this area. It’s not only that, there will be the construction of key infrastructure and social amenities such as clinics, schools, bridges and water supply.
“Yes, there are negative impacts such as displacement, pollution and all sorts of things which come with population growth, but these can easily be mitigated through measures such as compensation and emission monitoring.”
Chief Musarurwa, another traditional leader, has been instrumental in establishing the investment in the area and led traditional rituals at the site of the plant.
Manhize village head Mr Killian Tirivanhu urged the mining company to keep its promises and respect local cultural norms and values.
“This is in line with Vision 2030 and we are very excited, especially with the amount of transformation which will happen to towns like Chivhu,” he said.
“We just want them to respect our culture, our values and our norms when operations begin.”
Dinson continues to engage Government agencies and departments and other stakeholders to ensure their buy-in.
The company’s stakeholder register has 50 participants, with most of them representing various communities and Government departments.
The company’s director, Mr Benson Xu, has given assurances that a bulk of opportunities will be reserved for local communities.