via Govt secures investors to restart SMM 04 August 2014
THE government has secured investors to restart the country’s sole asbestos miner and other mines under its investment vehicle portfolio, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told a Parliamentary portfolio committee on Monday.
Shabanie and Mashaba Mines, in Zvishavane and Mashava, ground to a halt in 2008, three years after the government seized them from businessman Mutumwa Mawere.
The South Africa-based Mawere lost the company under a controversial “reconstruction” law that allows the state to take over assets of businesses deemed to be insolvent and incapable of servicing loans and charges owed to state institutions and agencies.
The mines were subsequently placed under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which has been looking for an investor to put up $140 million required to re-open the mines.
Chidhakwa said his ministry was currently evaluating proposals made by investors keen on taking over SMM and gold mines owned by ZMDC as well as the defunct tin miner, Kamativi.
“We have good grades, good quality, but putting together the financing has not been very easy. But I’m happy now that we have got proposals.
“In fact we have got proposals not just on asbestos but also on the gold mines under ZMDC-Jena, Elvington and Sabi. We got proposals for Kamativi and Mhangura.”
He added: “We will be evaluating those proposals and I’m sure that we will now have a light at the end of the tunnel in respect of Shabanie and Mashaba Mines.
“If we can get SMM going, then I think we can get Kamativi going. In the respective areas we would have done a significant piece of work.
“It’s something that I’m really keen to get going because it will have a big impact on the recovery of the mining sector.
He said the government will later this month conclude negotiations to secure $100 million from XCMG, a Chinese mining equipment company, for lending to small-scale miners in a bid to formalize operations, automate and improve accountability.
Chidhakwa said 65 percent of known gold claims in the country are held by small-scale miners.
Gold remains the mainstay of mineral production in the country accounting for more than 30 percent of the total value produced in 2013.
Output reached an all-time peak of 29 tonnes in 1999 before plunging to three tonnes in 2008. Of the six tonnes produced between January and July this year, 1,3 tonnes were produced by small-scale gold miners.
The Chinese loan would be made available at the end of August and will be availed through local financial institutions.
Commenting on the diamond sector, he said government has turned the heat on diamonds mines operating at Marange to shift to underground mining from alluvial in order to mine more quality gems compared industrial diamonds currently being extracted.