Isdore Guvamombe Features Editor (Source: The Herald)
Distant pounding and crushing hits the ears from far away, increasing in tempo and crescendo with each kilometre that we consume driving towards its source.The pounding and crushing becomes more audible, and the source reveals itself as a gold processing plant, with huge jaws that break stones into smaller particles until the stones release gold.
Believing in the past, there should be a consortium of white men running the gold plant, given the size of the plant and the equipment.
But the present tells a different story, Midkwe Minerals, a 100 percent indigenous company, is running the gold plant on the outskirts of Kwekwe, courtesy of Zanu-PF’s land reform, and indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.
Mounds of gold ore awaiting crushing come in from the 47 mining claims in the area carried by huge trucks that criss-cross and the three crushers use their iron jaws to reduce the size of the stones pregnant with ore.
The mine manager is an Engineer Thabani Wayne Ndlovu, a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe, a pointer to Zimbabwe’s education prowess.
“We are products of President Mugabe’s land reform and indigenisation vision and subsequent projects. We took over this plant — which is one of the largest in Zimbabwe — courtesy of the land reform programme.
We are now doing everything on our own and we produce up to 8kg of gold per month, when fortunes are good.
“Once the ore comes in from our 47 claims, they come through this screening and processing plant.
“There are two such screening and crushing points and here the stones are screened in terms of particle size until the stone size is reduced to 80mm and below.
“Ore is further pounded to powder size of about -75 microns, for optimum gold liberation,’’ Eng Ndlovu said.
Midkwe Minerals is a high volume plant that operates 24 hours and seven days a week, which can crush 600 tonnes of fresh ore per day and 1 000 tonnes of sandy ore per day.
“At full production we employ 200 workers full-time. The plant is fully equipped with geo-chemical carbonation and we do chemical analysis and we monitor every process to enable us to do maximum liberation of gold.
“At some stage ore goes through a trash screen where dirt is removed, then moved to the thickener where the ore moves to six tanks where we use the carbon leach process. The gold solution is attracted to carbon and trapped there.
“It is a bit of a complicated process but we strip the gold from the impregnated carbon. That is a very hot solution where we use electrolysis of gold, using electro-weavers.
“But what is important for Zimbabwe and the world is that Zimbabweans are running this mill professionally and profitably because of the land reform and indigenisation programmes.
“We run this plant 24 hours and we salute President Mugabe for his vision and wisdom and for his knowledge that we must own and exploit our resources,’’ Eng Ndlovu says.
In Rhodesia and indeed in the formative years of Zimbabwe’s independence, the mining industry remained largely the preserve of white businessmen and huge conglomerates, while black Zimbabweans remained mine workers or gold panners.
To date, under the national indigenisation programme, Zimbabweans have moved to own real mines and mine profitably.