Mining has its own challenges, and natural demonss that you need to fight
By Tendai Immanuel
Infrastructure is crucial for development. From transport systems to power-generation facilities and water and sanitation networks, it provides the services that enable society to function and economies to thrive.
The Mining sector is a key part of this through providing the raw materials and raising revenue that can be used in the necessary developmental activities. Zimbabwe has vast deposits of gold, gas, coal, diamonds, and chrome, platinum just to name a few providing a rich potential for development.
Looking at gas Zimbabwe, is second from Qatar in terms of gas deposits in the world, of which Qatar’s GDP is currently predominantly sustained on gas. Qatar has got 7.1 million metric tonnes of gas that they can work on in a year to year mining structure while Zimbabwe is sitting on 5.3 million metric tonnes.
Qatar is not a very big nation compared to America, Germany or other big European countries but they have been doing very well in terms of building their nation out of gas mining revenue. This is a clear indication of how mining can transform infrastructure development in a nation.
Reverting to Zimbabwe which has a small population of approximately 16 million including migrants domiciled in the country, our gas reserves could surely transform the economy and the face of infrastructure in the country but our gas remains untapped in Lupane.
Tendai Immanuel the Chief Executive Officer of Triumph Africa – an organisation which focuses mainly on the welfare and wellneing of vulnerable older people across Africa in countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi and Sierra Leone had a candid virtual interview with Jack Makate one of the Directors of Vuti Quaries on an Agents of Development Trust platform.
The scope of the interview was to explore the contribution of mining to communities, challenges in venturing into mining and what Vuti quarries are doing to assist communities around their mining areas.
Kromount Technology was established in 2006 but had its defining moment in 2017. Brothers Jack and Jackson Makate decided to venture into mining, but they could not decide which sector to pursue in mining as Zimbabwe is endowed with a colourful list of different mineral deposits.
They identified that the only sector they could get into that would not demand much from them, given constrained resources at the time; was granite mining. This however, did not come on a silver platter, Jack was quick to say it was not as easy as elucidating it in interviews or sharing the experience with others who want to venture into the same business.
They had to wrestle a lot of challenges but managed to make a breakthrough because they kept on trying driven by the desire of pursuing their dreams.
After deciding to pursue mining research was of paramount importance. A person can never succeed in business without doing enough research. They started researching about black granite, and they learnt that most of the beautiful cities like Dubai and London were built out of granite and most of that granite came from Africa; and most precisely Zimbabwe. Armed with this information the hunt for black granite mines began.
Everywhere they looked the mines were all reserved. They did not give up until they found a place which is in Makuti, Vuti. That is near Kariba. Black granite is commonly found in places where it is very hot and arid.
Quarry mine registration was not easy for them as there were cartels in the industry.
Starting a business is something that requires sacrifice, the Makate brothers had to liquidate some of their assets in order to raise capital. They were approached by quite a few established players trying to buy them out of the mine, but they were very adamant and reluctant to sell.
This was a war and in which brothers knew what was coming. Firmly off the ground they were offered a hefty amount of money persistently but Vuti Quarries was not for sale. It is the persistent offers which made the brothers curious and they realised that this industry was wholly dominated by a few individuals in Zimbabwe who were not kin to newcomers in the industry.
These early challenges became the early warning shots for serious investment in the quarry mine for three consecutive years.
The Chirundu Makutu expansion in the curves in Marongora area, being done by the Japanese, saw Vuti Quarries being considered as the quarry supplier. There were big players in the market who were already doing quite well, but Vuti Quarries succeeded in getting the contract.
Chasing the timeframes of the project Vuti Quarries started went in search for innovative ways to raise finances, with no outside financial injection they took the decision to liquidating their real estate properties to raise more capital. It was quite an arduous journey until the wheels started turning writing a success story.
“Mining has its own challenges and natural demons that you need to fight and when you start fighting these demons you have to open your eyes and never close them for a second”, said Jack Makate.
Of all the minerals that you can mine in Zimbabwe, According to Makate, granite is the most direct and easiest. The major challenge of venturing into the industry in Zimbabwe was domination of the industry by a few individuals. The individuals monopolizing the industry know people need granite for roads, housing and almost everything as far as infrastructure is concerned.
Makate said, “…..granite is the cheapest natural resource that you can mine because it is just granite from the mine to the market”. Resilience gave birth to Vuti Quarries which is now the biggest black owned granite quarry in the country. With a size of 150 hectares, employing 24 people, Vuti Quarries lay claim to black granite, Galaxy type.
While discussing corporate social responsibility, Miss Immanuel put it to Mr Makate that mining as a sector is historically awash with stories of tokenism as opposed to tangible sustainable development projects from the times of the infamous Rudd concession to date.
Acknowledging that this is the prevailing narrative, Mr Makate highlighted that while mining is being done country wide, most mining activities were still not fully ploughing back into the local communities to make sure they benefit from the mining activities.
However, as Vuti Quarries they are contributing to the Community Share ownership Scheme over and above other activities that they are rolling out for the benefit of the community. He also pointed out that land reclamation is a necessity to ensure that the mining activities become sustainable.
Jack Makate suggested that perhaps mining companies should be required to pay a significant deposits for land reclamation at the inception of their projects to be refunded only if agreed work towards land reclamation is completed. As Vuti Quarries Jack Makate said their endeavour is not only to make sure that they operate within the dectates of the law, but do so sustainably.
Mr Makate also lamented that the mining laws seemed to favour those who have many opportunities to continue grabbing more opportunities with the industry. He however reiterated that the biggest crime to ever happen to Zimbabwe was the education system.
He noted that Zimbabweans were educated to be workers not employers, and as a result opportunities in the mining sector lay waste only to be taken advantage of by foreign investors.
The interview gave a deep insight of the role that mining has to play in infrastructure development and economic emancipation, basic principles of starting a business and the challenges in the mining industry in Zimbabwe. Research, persistence, sacrifice and believing in one’s self are some of the illustrious points that came out of the interview.
Article was written by Tendai Immanuel the CEO of Triumph Africa using responses by Jack Makate one of the Directors of Vuti Quarries. Tendai is involved in philanthropy and sustainable development work across Africa in countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi and Sierra Leone. She writes in her personal capacity and is contactable via email email@example.com
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