There are huge deposits of limestone in the Mberengwa Mountain suitable for both soft cement and agricultural fertilisers and the Chinese are interested in exploiting the deposits, Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo said last week.
Responding to a question from Senator Sekai Holland, Moyo said the deposits currently belong to AA Mines, a subsidiary of SMM. AA used to stand for African Associated Mines and was part of the Shabanie and Mashaba Mines.
Shabanie and Mashaba Mines were taken over by the government but have not been operating for some years.
Moyo said last week that it was difficult to get investors for the mines because their operations were currently being administered by three government ministries.
The Deputy Minister said the government had put the lime deposit onto the market and a number of people had expressed interest.
“The most promising interest is coming from the Chinese investors. I am not sure as to the details of the discussions that took place in China during the President’s recent State visit but I can confirm that, that deposit is the one that is being talked about,” he said.
The Chinese are already involved in cement production under the Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Company near Gweru.
Q & A:
SENATOR HOLLAND: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development on the issue of mining in Mberengwa. I have been bombarded with questions which I would like to verify that we have a cement mining venture that is coming up and people would want to know how they enter. What are the new mining prospects that are going on that we can give people information on where they are and how they can be accessed?
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (MR. F. MOYO): Thank you Mr. President. I understand the hon. senator wants me to talk specifically with regard to the mineral endowment of Mberengwa.
The specific question was on cement. Yes, Mberengwa has got a number of limestone deposits. The biggest limestone deposit which is being talked about at the moment by potential investors is the mountain that is called, ‘Mberengwa’. The lower part of the Mberengwa mountain and the surrounding hills are largely made out of limestone. Limestone deposits can be used to produce a variety of products, the main ones being cement and agricultural lime.
The deposit in Mberengwa is suited for both soft cements and agricultural fertilizers. The deposit currently belongs to AA Mines who, however, are currently failing to maintain it. AA Mines is a subsidiary of SMM and SMM being now an entity under Government means that Government has influence over that deposit. We have put that deposit onto the market and a number of people have expressed interest. The most promising interest is coming from the Chinese investors.
I am not sure as to the details of the discussions that took place in China during the President’s recent State visit but I can confirm that, that deposit is the one that is being talked about.
How do people participate? As I stated, it is a deposit that is under a private company at the moment. However, the company is mandated under our indigenization laws to cede a certain percentage of their equity through their investors to community participation and the percentages being potentially 10% for the community and 5% for employees up to a current minimum of 15%.
On the other mineral endowments of Mberengwa, I think we are all aware of the fact that there is chrome that can be mined from Mberengwa around Nyala Mine. The challenge that is there is that the smelters are too far to be able to allow the activities around Nyala Mine to be viable, that is bringing the ore all the way to Gweru which is the nearest point of potential smelting. The deposit can, however, be mined successfully if smelters are placed around the Mberengwa-Inyala area.
We also have iron ore in the mountain itself, the Buchwa mountain. The reason why the mine of Buchwa was closed was that the National Railways was not able to deliver the iron ore to ZISCO Steel at the correct price, otherwise the deposit is still viable.
The other reason is that for the hon. senator who is aware of the specifics, there is a mountain called Hwikwi which is all iron ore but that iron ore is in the form of friable material which ZISCO Steel is not able to use. Potential investors can place their processing plants around Mberengwa itself, around the mine and it can turn the deposit into a viable one again. Mberengwa also have large deposits of titanium, although they are not confirmed. These are the hills that are sprawling the area of Furemiti which is a deposit that has got very high grades, but demands a lot of power in order to process.
We also have the germ stones around Sandawana. More importantly, Sandawana area has got iron ore and tantalite and it may be of use for senators to realise that 80% of the world’s tantalite is produced between Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If those two countries were able to put their thoughts together, they would have maximum influence over the tantalite market which is the mineral that produces computers and cellphones. We have of course, gold that is also around Mberengwa; iron ore around Chegato School; maybe I leave it there. If the hon. senator is interested in finer details, then maybe we can discuss outside the formal meeting. Thank you Mr. President.