Tile Producing Mega Plant and Granite Rock Products
According to the Daily News report, Zimbabwe is looking forward to launching another multi-million manufacturing plant that will produce granite tiles and other natural stone-related products very soon. Surewin Investment (Pvt) Ltd, which was granted the "Special Economic Zone" status last year, will establish its new manufacturing hub in Mutoko specifically for granite cutting and polishing.
Mutoko, a rural town In Mashonaland East province with over 12,000 residents, is now home to the world's best black granite available, which is used to bring out the exquisite beauty of any home across the globe. The manufacturing plant is expected to generate $20 million worth of foreign direct investments with an estimated revenue of $5 million per year from export and domestic sales of high-grade commercial granite rock products.
The newly-endorsed investment is also expected to deliver new and advanced technological systems for the granite mining industry according to Zimbabwe Special Economic Zone Authority (Zimseza) chief executive officer Edwin Kondo in his recent press statement. He added that the new investment would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs and the majority of them will benefit the locals.
Kondo reiterated that twenty locals would be trained on various mine construction projects during the first year of operation. While Zimbabwe's economic problems on both imports and exports still ongoing, the newly-authorized investment is believed to provide significant contributions towards technology and skills advancements, import substitution and value addition to the construction sector.
Kondo said that the transfer of advanced granite cutting and polishing processes would greatly benefit the entire country and its local citizens. These cutting-edge technologies are expected to make all granite products competitive on both domestic and international markets, thus increasing the value of Mutoko's natural resources.
While the Mutoko people express concerns over the possible effects of exploitation of their natural resources, Surewin Investment (Pvt) Ltd has affirmed its commitment to assist the local community through different social responsibility projects and livelihood assistance. The Zimseza chief said that the organization would support the local community through building access roads, providing road maintenance, completing the learning hubs at Manemba Primary and Nyakabau Primary School and upgrading the school facilities.
In related news, Center for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) has urged the national government to give the initial "right of refusal" to local companies on mega plant deals before considering foreign-owned investments. The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) black granite mining project in Mutoko, which was granted to a Chinese firm Surewin Investment (Pvt) Ltd, also follows a number of mining concessions given to foreign investors. "What we are witnessing with this declaration of SEZ is that another company has been given considerable reign over our resources and it remains to be seen if it will be meaningful for Mutoko," expressed CNRG Communications Officer Simiso Mlevu.
Russian firm Alrosa Diamond Company and another Chinese firm Anjin Investments were given diamond mining licenses to augment the operations of local Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Murowa Diamonds in early January. Furthermore, the national government awarded Chinese-owned Tsingshan a special permit to exploit 45 billion tons of iron ore in Chivhu and set up a stainless steel manufacturing plant in October 2018.
Karo Resources, a Cyprus-based mining firm, was among the 23 beneficiaries of the 903-hectare land abandoned by Zimplats on the Great Dike to pave the way for the construction of $4.2 billion mining complex. Mutoko, which was granted SEZ status in 2018, is a viable mining location where the abundance of black granite stones or known as "black diamond" is extremely high.
Mlevu said that the SEZ grants would only consider an economic gain if they will yield positive results for the affected local communities. The government wishes to turn Mutoko into a modern industrial complex with a manufacturing plant set to be constructed for the production of granite-related products soon.
For many years, there have been unresolved issues in relation to the continuing effects of black granite mining in Mutoko, which include environmental health problems, community security, infrastructure damages and even cases of heinous crimes. A lot of active players have already exploited the black granite at greater environmental, cultural and social costs to the locals of Mutoko. It is about time for the government to improve on its accountability as well as transparency in the proper management of natural resources.
The CNRG communications chief hopes the government will fully implement the policies and economic strategies for the greater good and not to revise them for political reasons. Now is the time for the granite mining firms to fulfill their sworn duties and responsibilities for the Mutoko people with complete sincerity.
So far, the local government has declared five special economic zones namely Fernhill in Mutare measuring 87 hectares, Masuwe state land in Victoria falls measuring 1,200 hectares, stand 518 Beitbridge and its surroundings measuring 105 hectares, the Belmont, Kelvin, Donnington corridor in Bulawayo and the Imvumila industrial area also in Bulawayo. Zimseza is a governing body which was created under chapter 14:34 of the Special Economic Zones Act, mandated to designate and administer special economic zones across the country.
- Dale Basilla