- August 26, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Awakening asbestos mining giant Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) is set to resume chrysotile asbestos fibre exports for the first time in over a decade as Government’s master plan to revive the mine begins to bear dividend, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.
This fibre is a key ingredient in the manufacture of roofing tiles, sheets and other asbestos-related products.
Minister Chitando told The Sunday Mail Business in an exclusive interview this week that the asbestos behemoth, which closed shop in 2007, will resume exports with an order to India in the next two weeks.
The fibre is being generated from SMM’s rich dump tailings totalling 143 million tonnes, which was accumulated during the firm’s 100 years of operation from 1907 to 2007.
Local industry is already benefiting from the SMM revival, with Turnall Holdings last week telling our sister paper, Business Weekly, that they have since cut on their asbestos fibre imports and are expecting to buy all their fibre locally in the coming weeks.
Government, Minister Chitando said, was excited by the news coming from SMM, particularly at a time authorities are seeking to grow exports from the mining sector from US$3,2 billion attained last year to US$12 billion by 2023.
“Work on the SMM dump is going on well and I am advised by their management that they are expecting to resume exports to India in the next two weeks,” said Minister Chitando.
“Information that they have given us is that they are now producing an average of 500 tonnes of asbestos fibre from the dump that is already on the ground.
“This is against an estimated domestic consumption of 300 tonnes per month,” he said.
Underground mining at Mashaba
Minister Chitando said there has also been considerable progress on the de-watering exercise at Mashaba Mine, which is effectively done, as engineers have now managed to access a lot of equipment that was submerged.
On completion, which will be about six months from closure of a funding structure to complete the de-watering exercise, an initial 800 workers will be employed at the mine.
At full throttle, Mashaba is expected to produce 18 000 tonnes of asbestos fibre worth an estimated US$8,5 million in its first year of operation.
Production is expected to jump to 21 000 tonnes in the second year and up to 75 000 tonnes in the third year_The Sunday Mail