Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
THE management of Shabanie Mashava Mines has completed a report detailing financial and technical requirements needed for revival of the defunct Gaths Mine in Mashava.
SMM, which operates Shabanie Mine in Zvishavane and Gaths Mine in Mashava, shut down mining operations in 2004 after Government annexed the assets from businessman Mutumwa Mawere through a reconstruction order, arguing the company was State-indebted and insolvent.
At the time of closure, the company was the world’s sixth largest with an annual output of 140 000 tonnes, according to the management. The two mines employed 3 000 workers.
Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development Fred Moyo, confirmed in an interview recently that the SMM management had completed the report on Gaths Mine.
“The management has submitted their report on what is needed to revive Gaths Mine and it is the same report that we are going to use when scouting for potential investors,” said Mr Moyo. Mr Moyo said the SMM management was now working on a report on Shabanie Mine detailing its requirement.
Several efforts to revive the company collapsed with the recent being the pulling out of a South African investor who had expressed interest in injecting fresh capital into the company.
According to management, the asbestos deposits at the two mines have a lifespan of 17 years when operating at full capacity. About $20 million is needed to restart the mines.
While the local asbestos industry faces competition from global producers, the quality of mineral produced by SMM is rated the best and as such, there is high demand for it.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidakwa, told the Senate in May this year that Government had secured a new market in India that may see the country shipping 50 000 tonnes of the commodity per year.
Minister Chidhakwa said many potential investors were not keen to go into asbestos because of the lobby to ban the mineral.
Health authorities around the world have long advocated against the use of asbestos, saying it posed health risks when the silky fibres that make up the mineral get into the air that people breathe.
According to Health Canada, when inhaled in significant quantities, asbestos fibres can cause a scarring of the lungs that impedes breathing; mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity; and lung cancer.
Asbestos, which is widely used in the construction and other industries has been banned in many developed countries, including the European Union. In some countries, such as Canada its use is strictly controlled through the laws, according to reports.