The Herald (Harare)

23 February 2013

Zimbabwe: We Can Fund Our Own Processes

Photo: IRIN
Hope in Harare.

opinion

We hail principals to the Global Political Agreement for resisting moves by the Ministry of Finance to stay the referendum to enable the minister to source funds from donors. As we reported in our issue

yesterday, President Mugabe told visiting bishops of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Catholic Bishops of Southern Africa that we will be able to raise the US$200 million needed for the constitutional referendum and harmonised elections using our natural resources. This is the only way we can safeguard the integrity of our national processes as going around with a begging bowl would enable subversive forces to capitalise and meddle in our internal affairs.

Going to donors bowl in hand opens the doors to external influence. This is where we got it wrong in the first place when we roped in outsiders like the UNDP, a South African lawyer, the EU and some Nordic countries during the outreach and drafting stages. They all ended up thinking they were stakeholders in our national process, a process meant to lay the foundation for nation building. Competing interests prolonged to four years a process that should have taken no more than 18months. We have adequate resources to fund our own processes. For the benefit of our Finance Minister, who loves the begging bowl, here is what we are sitting on:

Gold: We are estimated to have over 3,5 billion tonnes beneath our soils. More than 90 percent of these deposits are located in the granite-greenstone terrain which covers about 60 percent of the country. Being home to over 6 000 recorded deposits, we have the capacity to produce at least 25 tonnes of gold annually.

Iron Ore: Our high-grade deposits are estimated to be over 251,17m tonnes.

Nickel: The country's known deposits of 41,9 million tonnes are being mined at Trojan and Shangani mines in the south of the country. Among the base metals exploited in the country, nickel predominates in terms of value and contributes significantly to foreign currency generation. Bindura also hosts a smelter and refinery.

Platinum Group of Minerals (PGM): Our deposits, the second largest in the world, are estimated to be over 3,05 billion tonnes. They are found along the Great Dyke. After South Africa, we hold the second largest deposits, mined at the Chegutu, Wedza and Shurugwi complexes -- all along the Great Dyke. Exploration for more PGMs is underway in areas outside the Great Dyke.

Coal: Our huge coal resource base of over 8,87 billion tonnes is found in the Zambezi and the Save-Limpopo basins. It is renowned for its high ash content, low calorific values, low sulphur and phosphorus content needed in thermal power generation. To date, only coal resources within the mid-Zambezi basin have been reasonably exploited as the coal-bearing strata in this area is generally shallow and amenable to open cast mining.

Chrome: Our deposits are estimated to be over 50 million tonnes. Production is mainly along the Great Dyke. We are the world's fifth largest producer of chromite after South Africa, Kazakhstan, Turkey and India. Processed chrome, or high carbon ferrochrome (HCF), is one of our major foreign currency earners.

Asbestos: We are the fifth largest producers of high quality white asbestos fibre in the world, which is produced in the full range of grades required by customers. Our deposits are estimated over 47,1 million tonnes.

Diamonds: There have been over 130 discoveries of Kimberlite pipes in Zimbabwe. Known deposits are over 15 million tonnes. The story of our diamonds has become the stuff of legend following the discovery of three potentially lucrative kimberlite pipes in the Zvishavane district.

A new mine, Murowa Diamond Mine, with production figures of 200 000 tonnes per annum, is in operation. Such kimberlitic occurrences are spatially related and found in similar geological settings to those in diamond-rich Botswana. Consequently, there is immense potential for the discovery of more diamond fields as exploratory activities in the Marange area have shown.

Coal Bed Methane (CBM) gas: We have the largest known reserves of coal bed methane (CBM) gas in sub-Saharan Africa. CBM is a gas produced from the decomposition of organic matter during the formation of coal. All coalfields are, therefore, potential CBM gas fields. In Zimbabwe, CBM gas resources have so far been discovered in the Hwange and Lupane areas of the Matabeleland North Province, the Lubimbi area in Binga, the Sengwa area of Gokwe, and in Chiredzi in the south east.

Uranium: Exploration in the country dates back to the 1950s when surveys were carried out in the Zambezi Valley. Deposits were subsequently discovered, and with the ever increasing global fuel prices and the projected power deficit in Southern Africa, uranium stands out as one of the key alternatives to both oil and electricity imports. Apart from the minerals highlighted above, we also have huge deposits of over 40 other "strategic" minerals that are still to be, exploited.

Surely, how can we borrow when we have all these minerals at our disposal?

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