Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed roofing and building materials manufacturer, Turnall Holding, intends to increase its product range to include production and supply of non-asbestos roofing materials, as part of the group's wider strategy to explore export markets.
Asbestos products were blacklisted on the international market after concern had been raised by the Asbestos Resource Centre; an international group which suggested that exposure to asbestos usually resulted in diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Zimbabwe and some other countries like Russia and India countered the call for the banning of asbestos, citing the lack of conclusive scientific evidence on the toxicity of asbestos as a roofing material.
Turnall Holdings managing director Roselyn Chisveto told journalists in Harare recently that the firm decided to expand its product range to cater for foreign markets that have shifted from asbestos products to cushion the company against prevailing foreign currency shortages.
"The strategy is just for us to make sure that we manufacture products that speak to our export markets because at the moment they are foreign currency shortages in the country, so we would want to make sure that we are in a comfortable position to be able to generate our own foreign currency.
"Our foreign currency needs remain the same; we are importing spares, we are importing raw materials although now it is on a lower scale because Shabani Mashava Mine has come on board so we are now collecting from Shabani Mine (asbestos fibre we need); so that has helped us.
"Our exposure on importing is now minimal, so from that perspective we are saying non-asbestos is a product line that is preferred in the export markets -- so we are just responding to that.
"What happens is that the fibres that we are using in our production mix . . . we used to put in asbestos fibre but we are now putting in non-asbestos fibre -- these are cellulose , PVA, they are a blend of fibres that are non-asbestos," said Ms Chisveto.