Zimbabwe: Alaska Mine Opening - 200 Jobs to Be Created

Mashonaland West Bureau

AT least 200 jobs are set to be created at Alaska Copper and Smelting Mine when it resumes in October this year, after the firm got a US$12 million capital injection from a Chinese investor.

Employment creation is central to Vision 2030 of transforming Zimbabwe into an empowered and prosperous upper middle income economy. Further, the revival of Alaska dovetails with Government's desire to turn mining into a US$12 billion industry by 2023.

Alaska stopped operations in the year 2000, depriving over 700 workers of the livelihoods, but fresh jobs are set to be created at the smelting, floatation and electrolysis refinery plants whose construction is set to be completed by October. The company's general manager, Mr Wen Zhang, said construction of the plant commences end of next month once they are issued with an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) licence.

He was speaking recently during a tour of the initial stages of the Grand Sanyuan Copper Resources plant by Mines and Mineral Development Minister Winston Chitando and his deputy, Polite Kambamura.

"We are currently doing renovations to some of the dilapidated infrastructure while we wait to be given an EIA licence that is currently at 60 percent to completion," said Mr Wen.

"After the EIA, we will start the construction process of the floatation plant and smelter. The smelter will start producing in October this year. "We will consult a local community Chief to show him our respects and requirements before recruiting workers. In the initial stage, we will hire at least 100 before gradually increasing to 200." The plant will have four furnaces that will cater for raw materials taken from as far as Mhangura Copper Mine, Shamrock Mine near Karoi, Angwa Mine and Shackelton Mine.

At least 300 people will be employed through the Mhangura Copper Mine project alone, which is expected to be operational by end of year. Hundreds other jobs are set to be created in the value chain.

Mr Wen said they were targeting to start with 450 tonnes of copper bullion but gradually increase with time. The design of their plant seeks to cater for a lengthy period of operations. Operations will strict adhere to policies that will protect locals and the environment.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Cooperation (ZMDC) projects manager, Mr Voster Mamvura, said at least US$10 million annual revenue was expected although projections were around US$60 million.

He said a private environmental technical advisor has since been roped in to help speed up the process so that the company meets the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)'s requirements.

Minister Chitando, who was upbeat about the project, said the Government was on a drive to benefit from all its minerals to achieve the US$12 billion mining industry vision and Vision 2030, as espoused by President Mnangagwa. "We are on a drive to ensure that all copper assets are resuscitated and we also put into place new copper projects. All the four copper projects are on the road to resuscitation.

"I am pleased to see that the company is progressing as per plan and that we will have the first copper output in October this year. The other four projects will be feeding into the plant for beneficiation and it is very important," he said. The Alaska project is a partnership involving Grand Sanyuan, Rusununguko Holdings and ZMDC. The project has an anticipated lifespan of between 10 to 15 years.

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