Yoliswa Moyo, Mat South Bureau Chief
THE mining sector is gaining positive momentum in Matabeleland South Province, which is attracting renewed investment interest in the extractive sector and is poised to contribute more towards the attainment of Government’s US$12 billion mining milestone by 2023.
Leading mining companies in the province such as Blanket Mine, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) and Duration Gold are already seized with implementation of different expansion projects that involve millions of United States dollars.
These are being complemented by artisanal small-scale mining breakthroughs in different resource districts, which have seen the sub-sector contributing more to formal gold deliveries.
Blanket Mine, which is owned by Caledonia Corporation, has already completed a new central shaft project under a US$70 million expansion project and is now focused on establishing a solar plant to enhance its energy supply.
The investment is already impacting positively on improved quarterly output with the company now officially trading on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX).
PPC, which operates a clinker production plant in Collen Bawn has also maintained steady operations and recently unveiled a US$40 million solar power investment for its Bulawayo and Colleen Bawn plants, which will boost the firm’s energy requirements and help reduce the supply gap in the country.
The planned projects are expected to yield a combined output of 30MW, of which 17MW is for internal consumption with the excess of 13MW set to be fed into the national grid.
Yesterday, Duration Gold subsidiary, Vumbachikwe Mine, officially launched its US$2,6 million Tailings Storage Facility (TSF), which is expected to extend the mine’s depositional life by a further 20 years.
A TSF is the place where a mine stores the residues after the leaching and milling processes which recover the economic mineral.
In a speech read on his behalf by Matabeleland South provincial mining director, Mr Khumbulani Mlangeni, during the commissioning of the TSF at Vumbachikwe, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the achievement of the US$12 billion mining industry milestone can only be realised with the commitment of all the country’s gold producers.
“Vumbachikwe Mine’s new TSF represents a US$2,6 million commitment into a legacy project that shall ensure sustainable mining while cognisant of our national environmental concerns,” he said.
“I’m reliably informed that the design and construction of this tailings dam was done to the highest international standards, protecting both our people and the environment,” said Minister Chitando.
The minister said it was pleasing to note that the design and construction of the project was done by an entirely Zimbabwean team.
“This goes to demonstrate that our country has world-class skills and capabilities to continue to drive the mining industry into the future,” he said.
“I am informed that to the south of this site, the mine has already secured land for further expansion of the TSF in anticipation of increasing output as the mine’s proposed plans to expand and grow its production are realised,” said Minister Chitando.
He said Duration Gold Group was set to launch a further exploration initiative in which its partners will commence a major airborne geophysical survey of over 46 000 line kilometres.
“The survey will cover some 8 000 square kilometres of ground with the data gathering component alone taking over four months to complete.
“As such, this survey represents one of the largest of its kind to be flown in Zimbabwe since the countrywide airborne survey undertaken by the Canadian International Development Agency in the 1980s.
“This groundbreaking programme unequivocally confirms Zimbabwe’s prospectivity and potential for new large scale mineral discoveries,” said Minister Chitando.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Mr Mlangeni said he was confident that the country’s gold sector would deliver the 100-tonne target by next year.
“Blanket Mine is currently undertaking a massive US$70 million expansion project where a solar farm that will address 30 percent of their energy challenges is being set up,” he said.
“PPC is also working on a 20MW solar plant in Colleen Bawn. These investments will steer us towards the US$12 billion mining industry milestone as they will ensure uninterrupted productivity.
“We experience a lot of power cuts so some of the projects are expected to augment our power so that there’s consistent supply of power. We have new exploration projects, which are also expected to contribute to Vision 2030.
The goal is to increase output and in Matabeleland South, we’re mainly talking about gold production,” said Mr Mlangeni.
Mining, livestock production, tourism and irrigation development are key economic activities in Matabeleland South Province and, under the Second Republic, these are being revamped through enhanced collaboration between the Government and the private sector.
Guided by the National Development Strategy (NDS1), a key programme leading to Vision 2030, the revitalisation of these sectors is aimed at increasing the province’s production in line with the devolution agenda and creating more job opportunities for locals.
President Mnangagwa launched the US$12 billion mining industry strategic roadmap in 2019 and its targets are set to be met by 2023.
The mining sector is critical in generating foreign currency, contributing about 70 percent of the country’s forex earnings, largely driven by gold, platinum, and diamond.
Ends CKD PN.
Article Source: The Chronicle