By Business Reporter – Wednesday 6 March 2019
HARARE (Mining Index) – CENTRE for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) has called on government to give the first right of refusal to local companies for mega mining deals before considering foreign owned companies.
The Mutoko black granite mining Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project which was granted to a Chinese firm, Surewin Investments follows a series of other mining concessions signed off to foreign companies.
“What we are witnessing with this declaration of SEZ is that another company has been given considerable reign over our resources and it remains to be seen if it will be meaningful for Mutoko,” said CNRG Communications Officer Simiso Mlevu.
In January this year, Alrosa Diamond Company from Russia and Anjin Investments from China were granted diamond mining licences in Zimbabwe, to complement local Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Murowa Diamonds.
In October 2018, government granted a Chinese firm Tsingshan, a special grant to exploit 45 billion tonnes of iron ore in Chivhu and establish a stainless steel manufacturing plant.
Cyprus-based Karo Resources was beneficiary of the 23 903 hectares of land relinquished by Zimplats on the Great Dyke to develop a US$4.2-billion mining complex.
The abundance of black granite, also known as the black diamond saw Mutoko being granted SEZ status in 2018 and the project is expected to create thousands of direct and indirect jobs benefiting the locals.
“The granting of Special Economic Zone is welcome idea but this is only if it is going to yield any positive results for the community. As a country we have appropriated the art of coming up with good policies and strategies but they have remained that and never implemented to the letter,” said Mlevu.
With a beneficiation plant set to be constructed in Mutoko for production of tiles and other related granite products, there is hope from government to turn Mutoko into a modern industrial hub through use of local resources.
The US$82 million Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, Denmark is one outstanding architecture made from black granite mined in Mutoko.
SEZ Chief Executive Officer Edwin Kondo said Mutoko black granite project is expected to contribute greatly towards introducing new technologies and skill, value addition, import substitution and job creation with 20 locals expected to be trained on mine construction projects within the first year of implementation.
For decades, there has been unresolved concerns of effects of black granite mining in Mutoko causing environmental health, infrastructural damage, land degradation, loss of life and unplanned pregnancies among girls by miners who deny responsibility.
“For some time now, various players have extracted granite in Mutoko at a greater environmental, social, cultural and economic cost for the locals. It is high time our government improves on accountability and transparency in the management of natural resources.”
“Exploitation of natural resources affects locals more than urbanites and it does not make sense for someone sitting in Harare to enjoy the benefits of granite mining more than someone who inhales dust every day.”
“Also, I hope the government will live to implement devolution as per its book meaning and not re-model it for political ends. It is high time granite benefited the people of Mutoko and government must ensure that is achieved,” said Mlevu.
Black granite mining SEZ project is expected to attract US$20 million worth of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projected to generate annual revenue of US$5 million through local and export sales of value added granite rock products. ENDS//