Mwana eyes job creation

HARARE - Africa-focussed resources group, Mwana Africa plc (Mwana) says the resumption of smelting at its Zimbabwe unit Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) will assist in creating employment in the troubled southern African country.

Stuart Morris, the Mwana interim chairman said Zimbabwe was aware of the need to foster mining and investment, at the same time being mindful of its responsibility to ensure that the local populace should share fairly in the fruits of their country’s own resources.

“It is pleasing that we are in a position to resume smelting at BNC as it represents cooperation with the Zimbabwean government and its beneficiation objectives,” he said.

This comes as Mwana, which resumed operations in Zimbabwe in 2012 after a four-year respite, is currently raising over $26 million for the smelter with the capacity to process metal concentrates from other producers as well as recover other profitable by-products such as platinum group metals and cobalt.

The smelter — anticipated to be in operation in the first half of 2015 — will also see a significant reduction in transport and penalty costs associated with the sale of concentrate.

Morris noted that the restart of the smelter would represent an opportunity for the majority of unemployed Zimbabweans to improve their living standards.

“We believe that this, too, can contribute to the indigenisation policy by creating more jobs for local people, by increasing purchases from local suppliers and through generating higher taxable revenues,” he said.

Economic analysts believe this development will help Zimbabwe to address the rising unemployment rate estimated to be over 85 percent. 

The impact of the high unemployment rates has been devastating on the country as families have been failing to pay for basic services such as health and education.

According to various sources, the level of employment in Zimbabwe’s formal sector dipped from a peak of 1,4 million between 1981 and 1998 to around 998 000 by 2004. An estimated 100 000 jobs have been lost from 2004 up to date as government fails to create new jobs.

A report by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) for the period July 2011 to July 2013 shows that 711 companies in Harare closed down, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.

Firms are citing a cocktail of challenges among them high utility bills, high interest rates, lack of competitiveness and the shortage of working capital as close their businesses.

The company closures, which worsened following the adoption of multi-currencies in February 2009, have compounded the unemployment situation in the country.

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