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Why is Zimbabwe importing raw materials for paint manufacturing when we can use our local minerals?

By Business Reporter – Wednesday 15 June 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – ZIMBABWE is importing minerals that are used in paint manufacturing instead of exploiting local reserves to save foreign currency.

Industrial minerals are used, either in processed or natural state, to make paint. Over 20 minerals are used in paint manufacturing, most of which can be mined locally here in Zimbabwe.

Asbestos, barytes, calcite, chalk, dolomite, fluorite, galena, graphite, gypsum, jasper, limestone, manganese, mica, ochre yellow, pyrite, pyrophilite, quartz, red ochre, silica sand and talc are some of the industrial minerals used in paint manufacturing.

Zimbabwe has over half of the minerals used in paint manufacturing – calcite, dolomite, titanium, kaolin, oxides (for pigment), graphite, talc, manganese, quartz and gypsum.

“It is heart-breaking to note we have these resources. What is worse is these were mined by Rhodesians at some point around the 1960s,” lamented one miner.

Sadly, with such a vast resource base, Zimbabwe still finds herself importing minerals that are locally available due to lack of technology and proper equipment to process the minerals to the required density, hence rely on imports from South Africa.

“People who do these here in Zimbabwe do not have the equipment that can micronize these resources to the required specifications. The Zimbabwe market is flooded with calcite from Idwala in South Africa. But without the proper equipment you cannot penetrate the paint Industry,” said Kudzai Zvidzai, an expert in industrial minerals.

Zimbabwe is sitting on unexploited reserves which could potentially earn the country foreign currency. There is a ready market for minerals used in paint manufacturing within the SADC region which Zimbabwe must capitalise on.

“We don’t have to look far. Idwala lime has captured the SADC region. Their product goes as far as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). So there is a lot of potential,” said Zvidzai. ENDS// 

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