WATCH: Smiles in Kamativi as giant mine reopens

WITH a wide smile, Mr Christopher Mvula, originally from Zambia, could hardly hide his joy recently witnessing the reopening of Kamativi Mine, Hwange district in Matabeleland North province, which has breathed a new lease of life in the area.

Mr Mvula worked at Kamativi Mine for 22 years before it shut down in 1994. Born in 1954, Mr Mvula moved to Kamativi when he was a boy since his father was employed at the mine.

Upon completing his secondary education in 1972, Mr Mvula secured a job as a messenger at the mine until 1994 when it closed.

At the time, Kamativi Mine produced tin.

Ward 11 Councillor Joshua Tshuma

Mr Mvula could not return to Zambia and opted to remain at the mine compound. While he is no longer employable because of age, Mr Mvula believes the reopening of the mine will transform lives for the local community and re-ignite economic activity in the district.

Kamativi has reopened under a new name: Kamativi Mining Company (KMC), a joint venture between Sichuan Pude Technology of China and Government through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC) and they are now mining lithium.

The company has since commissioned the first phase of a modern lithium processing plant which is processing 1 000 tonnes of raw ore per day. It can produce 50 000 tonnes of lithium concentrate per annum.

Mrs Milanzi

KMC chief operating officer Mr Dexi Liang said the first small processing plant was now fully running after a two-month test run started in November last year.

A Chronicle news crew last Friday visited the mine and observed significant changes in the road network with some roads now tarred.

A 3,5km access road has been opened and surfaced. The road is a diversion from the Cross Dete-Binga Road to pave the way for the mine extraction while the road that connects the mine through Kamativi Police Station has also been tarred.

A roundabout to the community hall in the high-density suburb has also been tarred and named after Chief Nekatambe in whose jurisdiction Kamativi falls under.

The business centre within the compound was a hive of activity as some shops had reopened including the traders’ market.

“I grew up here and went to school here as my father worked at the mine. I started working as a messenger in 1972 before being moved to the engineering department. After the mine closed in 1994, I continued to stay here waiting for my pension which came in batches,” said Mr Mvula.

“I left my family here and went to work at Hwange Colliery Company for 10 years. I am still here because this is the only home I know. Most of my relatives are here and my father was also buried here in Kamativi.”

Mr Mvula is one of hundreds of former Kamativi Tin Mine workers who endured hard times at the then dormant mining town.

Mr Christopher Mvula

The resuscitation of the mine by KMC has rekindled hope in thousands of residents who had no other steady source of income apart from informal trade fishing.

Today, Kamativi exudes a renewed picture as KMC is busy upgrading infrastructure that includes roads and buildings while at the same time setting up its mining premises.

About 300 people, 50 percent of them locals, have been employed at the KMC while more than 1 000 more jobs have been created by 14 contractors engaged by the investor for various activities around Kamativi.

Another former Kamativi Tin Mine employee, Mr Timothy Mvula who is the Kamativi Residents Association chairman, thanked the Government for reviving the mine.

“I started working as a hospital messenger at the mine clinic before becoming a plumber until the mine closed. As poverty took its toll on former workers and their families, many resorted to other means of survival such as fishing in the crocodile-infested local dam,” he said.

“We started the residents association to try and address some of the issues and we thank Government for bringing an investor and reopening the mine. However, our appeal is that they should employ more locals so that our children benefit.”

Mr Misheck Johannes Moyo (75), a former employee, said he started working at the mine when it was still under the Bilton Company of Germany before it changed to Industrial Development Corporation and then ZMDC.

He urged the investors to come up with community projects that can sustain the community beyond the lifespan of the mine.

Ms Moyo

“We are happy to see the inevitable reopening of Kamativi Mine after its closure. We thank the Second Republic for delivering on its promises. Our wish is for the company to empower the community through some projects that can create sustainability outside formal employment,” said Mr Moyo.

Mrs Debra Milanzi originally from Mberengwa, said she moved to the mine after she got married to Mr Jackson Milanzi who worked as a security guard at the old mine.

Her husband recently got a similar job at KMC, becoming one of the few pensioners to benefit from the new mine.

Ms Mavis Moyo who moved to the mine in 1987, said the reopening of the mine would boost her informal business income as people now have disposable income.

Councillor for Ward 11 under the Hwange Rural District Council, Clr Joshua Tshuma said: “If you look back, roads were not tarred here but KMC has changed the face of Kamativi. They have even employed locals. We want to thank Government for its policy of leaving no one and no place behind in terms of development.”

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