We have received the horrifying news that Zimbabwe will resume asbestos production after stopping 8 years ago.
Zimbabwe’s choice to re-open the mines:
Zimbabwe was once the 6th biggest producer of asbestos in the world. However, eight years ago it closed its two asbestos mines – Shabanie and Mashava in Southern Zimbabwe. Following the closure, Zimbabwe has relied on importing the substance from other countries. Estimates suggest that they currently spend around $5 million a year on importing asbestos.
Despite the global anti-asbestos lobby, which has seen at least 55 countries ban the substance, Zimbabwe’s authorities want to put the country back on the map as a leading producer. This means that they will re-open the two mines this year.
This comes as a shock to us at Asbestos Justice because we are used to reporting positive news as countries around the world ban the substance. For example, we were recently very happy to report on the ban in Ukraine.
$100 million loan:
A Chinese company are giving Zimbabwe a loan of $100 million to fund the project. This money will be used to refurbish and reopen the mines. The mines will supply asbestos to Zimbabwe itself and also provide exports for the Asian market.
The official statement:
Walter Chidhakwa, Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development Minister, has said; “We have secured domestic and international markets for asbestos. We are going to sell our products to Russia, India and Kazakhstan before the end of the year.
The two mines only require about $20 million to be recapitalised and we are going to utilise the loan facility to start production.”
He continued; “The re-opening of the two mines will create around 100,000 jobs and generate desperately needed foreign currency for the country. We need to refurbish the mining plant in addition to buying new equipment as part of the recapitalisation process.”
The History of Zimbabwe’s Mines:
During their peak the mines produced 140,000 tonnes of asbestos a year. The government seized the mines after their major shareholder, Mutumwa Mawere, was accused of accumulating a large amount of debt. The closure of the mines meant that about 300,000 people lost their jobs. There has been a reduction in diamond mining, meaning that further jobs have also been lost.
The government hopes that reopening the asbestos mines will help to rejuvenate the economy – regardless of the effects on health.
What impact will this have on health?
Health experts and many scientists claim the chrysotile asbestos, the type mined in Zimbabwe, is a major cause of cancer and other fatal diseases.
Clearly, leaders in Zumbabwe are not concerned that this substance could cause death and health problems. Opening the mines will inevitably lead to a large rise in asbestos-related deaths in not only Zimbabwe but also all the countries they export the asbestos to.
As a result, the number of asbestos compensation claims will also rise.
How can we help?
If you require assistance in pursuing an asbestos compensation claim for mesothelioma or other asbestos disease then please contact us today. You can do so by calling our free phone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to our ‘contact us’ page; complete the form, and we will be in touch.