AAG lashes out at granite miners

 

RUTENDO RORI

 

The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has blasted granite stone mining companies operating in Mutoko District, Mashonaland East Province, for failing to give back to the community through social corporate responsibility interventions, Business Times can report.

The AAG Mashonaland East vice chairman, Lincoln Matare, said the mining companies were extracting black granite in the province, racking in huge sums of money.

But, the people of Mutoko, have not benefited from the resource, Matare said.

They are wallowing in poverty.

The companies are also blamed for failing to remit much to the local authority as well.

About 98% of black granite extracted from Mutoko is exported to European markets and earns the exporters millions in foreign currency.

Environmental degradation, he said, was also taking its toll.

“….We are castigating some companies mining black granite in the province that are not empowering our communities and exporting raw products. The scripture says the authorities speak once and you listen twice,” Matare said.

He added: “As AAG Mashonaland East, we want granite miners to give back to the community. Companies that blast blocks of the stone from quarries are doing more harm than good to local people and to their environment. Black granite rakes in millions of dollars in export earnings mainly from South Africa, Australia, Belgium and other major markets.

“We are condemning the exploitation of the mineral that has left communities in the mining areas wallowing in poverty with environmental decay taking its toll,” Matare said.

Several granite miners in Mutoko have been dragged to court in the past few years.

Five years ago, Mutoko Rural District Council dragged several companies, including Natural Stone Exporting Company, Iford Services and Zimbabwe International Quarries, to court for failing to pay levies and other statutory payment.

It is understood that Zimbabwe produces an estimated 150 000 tonnes of granite annually with Mutoko district contributing about 75% of the total black granite output.  According to the official data obtained from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, 98% of the mined black granite is exported to Italy, South Africa, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Argentina, the United States of America, and Canada. However, the miners are exporting granite in its raw form.

Matare also appealed to the government to come up with policies that improve the ease of doing business for the country to attract the much need foreign direct investment.

He also bemoaned high bank charges. “The business sector is seized with some challenges in the country. We continuously appeal to the government to double efforts on ease of doing business, which will enable reduction of bank charges and make Zimbabwe a destination of choice for both local and foreign direct investments which has eluded us yet we have huge potential and untapped resources both natural and human capital,” Matare said.

 

 

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