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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeFeatureKuvimba Gives Kiss Of Life To Zim’s Forgotten Mining Communities

Kuvimba Gives Kiss Of Life To Zim’s Forgotten Mining Communities

Just under three years after setting out to revive some of Zimbabwe’s once-famous but now-defunct mines, Kuvimba Mining House (Kuvimba) is now at the center of an economic renewal in a number of these forgotten mining communities.

Kuvimba was established in 2020 and has so far acquired Bindura Nickel Company, Shamva mine, Jena mIne, Sandawana, Tiger and Club, Globe and Phoenix, Great Dyke Investments, Freda Rebecca and Zim Alloys.

The group is 65% owned by the government with the remainder being private equity. Since establishment, it has not only acquired and resuscitated the kaput  business operations, but has gone further to develop the communities  once thriving on the very existence of these iconic mines.

In just under three years, it has managed to create employment for 4000 people across all its mining operations, mainly targeting locals as part of its corporate social responsibility thrust.

The transformation of Shamva town for example, since take over of its flagship Shamva Gold Mine (Shamva mine) in 2020 has been a game-changer.

The mine closed in 2019 due to a myriad of operational challenges leaving many people jobless and dreams shuttered.

Shamva mine was previously closed in 2008 only to open a year later, the first time signs of its underlying struggles were highlighted under its previous ownership, Metallon Gold Zimbabwe, a subsidiary of Metallon Corporation (UK) owned by South African business mogul Mzi Khumalo.

Today locals say the coming of Kuvimba to resuscitate Shamva Gold Mine has brought life back into their economically declining town.

“I didn’t think I’d live to see this day. In Just a short time we are seeing major facelifts,” said Tapiwa Chigunwe, a villager near Musiyiwa business center, a few kilometers from the mine who is happy to see renovations taking place at the mine hospital which is also open for the community.

“The sight of our rusting old mining shaft was always heart-breaking. We are happy our town is claiming its glory and we are grateful of the various benefits the community is getting from the company,” he added.

Discovered around 1865 before exploration by a company called Goldfields of Rhodesia began in 1893, Shamva mine was to be a successful mining operation for more than a century.

Over the years it changed ownership several times until it was acquired by Metallon Gold in 2002 just when Zimbabwe was experiencing an economic downturn.

Due to lack of reinvestment by the new owners, it was put under care and maintenance in the next few years.

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Just like most mining towns, once the mining operations halted in 2008, it took a massive toll the community.

Small owned businesses that once provided support to the community closed, families moved away and the town itself grew quieter, save for some small scale miners who were scavenging for mineral scraps from the old mining dumps. It reopened in 2009 only to close again a decade later.

It was until 2020 that Kuvimba acquired the mine and quickly put it under business rescue to avoid seizure of its assets by creditors that Shamva mine and the community finally got a kiss of life.

According to the group, it has so far invested US$ 15 million into reviving the mine’s underground operation since takeover and monthly production has reached 45 000 tons matching its 1910 annual production levels.

Shamva is expecting to invest a total US$126 million in peak funding for the Shamva Hill open pit project which will give it a 14 year lifespan.

“We started by collaborating with Freda Rebecca Gold Mine and accessing their vast processing capacity to process our ores,” Shamva Gold Mine operations manager, Engineer Gift Mapakame told reporters at a recent tour of the mine.

Operations are now at full scale at Shamva Gold Mine which recently opened following acquisition by Kuvimba Mining House.

However, it is the commitment of caring for the communities in which it operates that has had the most profound effect on locals.

The group has revamped Shamva Primary School infrastructure, furniture and fittings, teaching material as well as taking care of teaching staff accommodation.

A clinic was also built within the mine premises and about US$20 000 is spent on drugs per month.

In addition, a modern mortuary with a holding capacity of 11 bodies has been built replacing the old one which only accommodated a maximum of two bodies.

“This is the biggest mortuary in the whole province, the provincial mortuary only holds 9 bodies and this one holds 11 bodies and this one is state of the art,” said Shamva Gold Mine’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project manager Rodrick Chindoko.

Taking care of local communities has been the group’s focus at all its subsidiaries.

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At Sandawana Mine, in Mberengwa, the group plans to construct a new 35-kilometre road and as well as setting up an asphalt surface on a road network of over 115km which will promote trade links for locals with major commercial centers.

Kuvimba has developed a sustainable mining business model -that of consolidation through acquisition of mothballed mines of national strategic importance.

To succeed where erstwhile owners of these mines failed, the group is executing a high volumes-low grade strategy which has so far proved commercially viable.

In its full maiden year of operations in 2021, the group paid its inaugural dividend to shareholders of US$5.2 million.

Of the total dividend payout, US$400 000 was channelled towards compensation to pensioners who hold 5% in the company through the Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC).

The group intends to set up Community share ownership schemes in all the communities it operates on top of social services such as healthcare and education that it is already offering.

This comes after villagers in Mberengwa have been pushing for lithium claims at its Sandawana asset which according to experts could lead to human conflict if no immediate agreement is reached.

According to local chiefs, the mine should cede some lithium claims under Sandawana to locals, a position experts doubt its viability given Zimbabwe wants to be a major global supplier which entails that extraction of the lithium will have to at a very massive scale with sophisticated machinery.

“There is a need for a mutually beneficial relationship between the miner and the community,” says Gibson Nyikadzino, an independent social development analyst.

“In as much as villagers want lithium claims, they do not have the wherewithal to do operations and will still need an investor to pursue operations for them. Community share ownership schemes can only be a lasting solution.”

Currently Zimbabwe does not have strong regulation to support corporate social responsibility leaving communities at the mercy of mining companies.

Through the implementation of Zimbabwe’s Communal Land Act, which empowers the President to expropriate communal land, some rural communities in Zimbabwe are being displaced from their homes more frequently to make room for mining operations.

Furthermore, Section 26(a) of the Mines and Minerals Act  allows for the prospecting of minerals on communal land which frequently leads to clashes between mining companies and rural communities.

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