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Small-scale miners eye Dandes’ salt riverbeds

By Business Reporter – Tuesday 19 May 2020

LOCAL – HARARE (Mining Index) – LOCAL artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) are diverting attention from the gold and chrome rush, eyeing to exploit vast salt riverbeds in the Dande area.

Oral evidence from history asserts that Nyatsimba Mutota from the Great Zimbabwe kingdom travelled north to the Dande region around 1430 in search of salt, which led to the rise of the Mutapa state.

It is believed the Dande had massive salt deposits that enabled Mutota to establish the Mutapa State as salt was important in their diet.

Also referred to as table salt or by its chemical formula NaCl, salt is an ionic compound made of sodium and chloride ions, used by humans for years for food preservation to seasoning.

Local miners say there is need for further exploration in the Dande district to quantify the resource.

“It is just salts found in riverbeds everywhere in a large area in Dande. This still needs exploration,” said one of the miners who intend to start extracting the resource.

According to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), salt deposits are also found in Mwenezi.

Apart from sea water, salt also comes from sodium chloride mineral halite, also known as rock salt.

Rock salt occurs in vast beds of sedimentary evaporite minerals that result from the drying up of enclosed lakes, playas, and seas. Salt beds may be up to 350 metres thick and underlie broad areas.

Salt is extracted from underground beds either by mining or by solution mining using water to dissolve the salt. In solution mining, salt reaches the surface as brine from which the water is evaporated leaving salt crystals.

Geologists often use a variety of techniques to locate salt domes in the subsurface when they are exploring for new oil and gas resources.

While the Dande area is also rich in coal and gold, the availability of salt in the district could point to Zimbabwe’s oil discovery by Australian listed, Invictus Energy, whose geochemical studies last year confirmed oil potential of the Cabora Bassa Basin in the Muzarabani district.

Salt pans have also been reported in Hwange National Park, situated 8km from Robin’s camp. The availability of such salt pans in the national park can also be used in scientific research of the evidence of huge deposits of coal-bed methane (CBM) gas discovery in Matebeleland north province in May 2014, estimated to be over 23 billion cubic feet per square mile with Hwange and Lupane alone are projected to hold over 800 million cubic metres per square kilometre.

Zimbabwe has vast mineral wealth consisting of over 60 minerals including platinum, chrome, gold, lithium, coal, tin, copper, limestone, coal-bed methane (CBM), natural gas, black granite, uranium and more. ENDS//

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