KAMATIVI Tin Mine in Matabeleland North is set to resume operations after 21 years of dysfunction with a Chinese investor, China Beijing Pinchang, injecting $102 million into the mine.
Kamativi, which is one of the largest tin mines in Zimbabwe and is estimated to have reserves amounting to 100 million tonnes, ceased operations in 1994. In an interview soon after handing over mining equipment to small-scale miners in Mberengwa and Zvishavane, Mines and Mining Development Minister Cde Walter Chidhakwa said Government finalised the deal with China Beijing Pinchang which will see the Chinese company taking up 49 percent of the company while ZMDC would have a controlling stake of 51 percent.
Cde Chidhakwa said under the deal, China Beijing Pinchang would be mining tin, lithium, tantalite, beryl, copper and beryllium and would also set up a refinery at the mining site for the minerals. “We shortlisted four potential investors who had shown interest in reviving Kamativi Tin Mine and assessed them to see if they were capable and met the minimum requirements. After the assessment we then settled for a Chinese company China Beijing Pinchang which is already involved in the Asian country. “The company will bring technology and have agreed to fully comply with the indigenisation laws. We signed an agreement that they will have 49 percent shares while ZMDC will own 51 percent. The initial investment will be $102 million and the company will set up a refinery not only for tin but other minerals,” he said.
Cde Chidhakwa said the deal would also see Government evaluating the value of the dump at the mining site that would also be sold to China Beijing Pinchang as part of the agreement. The mine was opened in 1936 and shut down in 1994 after international tin prices fell to levels that rendered operations unviable. At the time of its closure, the mine employed 800 people. The price depression emanated from the devastating tin price crash in 1985 when overnight, the price fell from about $18 000 per tonne to less than $3 000.
According to the ZMDC, between $35 million and $50 million is needed to resuscitate operations at Kamativi. A tonne of tin fetches between $17 000 and $22 000 on the international market.
Cde Chidhakwa said the country was losing potential revenue through smuggling, side marketing, and inflation of operational costs while some companies were declaring less than they would have extracted or realised from gold sales. He said he set up a taskforce comprising members of the ministry, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police and Fidelity and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe to plug gaps that have seen the country losing potential revenue through gold leakages.
Cde Chidhakwa said gold input had increased since the setting up of the taskforce. “In January last year, small-scale miners produced 142kg of gold but this year they produced 303kg in the same month. The figure has risen to 667kg in the month of July. This is because we have managed to plug in some of the gold leakages we identified through the taskforce. Gold output in the country (inclusive of large scale mines) rose from 1 570 kg produced in January to 3 700kg produced in July,” he said. Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said the country had discovered 28 gold leakages which in turn affected gold output. The country has been producing about 15 tonnes of gold per year yet it used to produce 26 tonnes of gold per month.
The mining equipment which is worth about $150 000 was sourced by Zanu-PF Member of Parliament for Zvishavane-Ngezi Cde John Holder who is the patron of the Zishavane-Mberengwa small scale miners association and will benefit 141 miners.