As I drove down the tarred road towards the Zimplats mine, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe at the scale of the operations.
Zimplats is the largest Platinum Group Metals (PGM) mine in Zimbabwe and a major contributor to the country’s economy. It is also Zimbabwe’s largest mining investment. The company is located in the Hartley Complex of the Great Dyke.
Located in Mhondoro-Ngezi District in Mashonaland West, about 100 kilometers southwest of Harare, Zimplats operates several underground mines, as well as a smelter and concentrator plant. The company employs over 9,000 people through both direct employment and labour contracting, making it one of the largest employers in the country.
Mhondoro-Ngezi District is more than just a mining hub. The district is home to several natural and cultural attractions, as well as a rich history and vibrant community.
One of the most striking things about Mhondoro-Ngezi District is its natural beauty. The district is home to several wildlife reserves, including the Mhondoro Game Reserve, which is home to a variety of animals, including elephants, lions, and zebras. The district is also home to several rivers, including the Sengwa River, which is a popular spot for fishing and boating.
Mhondoro-Ngezi District is also rich in cultural heritage. The district is home to several traditional villages, where visitors can learn about traditional lifestyles and customs. The district is also home to several historical sites, including the ruins of a 19th-century fort and the remains of an ancient trading centre.
But perhaps the most significant aspect of Ngezi District is its mining industry. Zimplats operates several mines in the district, including the Ngezi Mine. As you enter the mine, you are struck by the sheer size of the operation.
The tunnels stretched for miles underground, with hundreds of workers and machines busily extracting PGMs from the earth. I was fascinated by the complex process of mining and refining platinum, which involves crushing, milling and processing the ore to matte. The miner is currently building a base metal refinery.
At Zimplats, l have learned that health and safety is not just a priority, it’s a core value. The company has implemented a range of measures to ensure the well-being of its workers, including comprehensive training programmes, regular safety inspections, and a robust health and safety management system.
One of the key components of Zimplats’ health and safety programme is its training initiative. All workers are required to undergo extensive training before they are allowed to work in the mines. The training covers a wide range of topics, including safety procedures, emergency response, and equipment operation.
In addition to training, Zimplats also conducts regular safety inspections to ensure that all equipment and facilities are in good working order and that workers are following safety procedures. The company has also implemented a health and safety management system, which includes regular risk assessments and audits to identify potential hazards and address them before they become a problem.
But health and safety at Zimplats is not just about preventing accidents and injuries. The company also has a range of programmes aimed at promoting the overall health and well-being of its workers. These programmes include regular health screenings, access to medical care, and wellness programmes aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles.
l can testify that Zimplats isn’t just a mining company. The company is also committed to social responsibility and community development, investing in a range of initiatives aimed at improving the lives of local residents.
For example, Zimplats has built schools, clinics, and other infrastructure projects to support the development of the local community. They have also supported , Ngezi Platinum, one of the best teams in the premier league and have invested in state of the art golf courses. No wonder they have been regular champions at the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual Jumbo Championship.
The company has also launched several social responsibility programmes, such as local enterprise development to support local entrepreneurs, a health and safety programme aimed at reducing accidents and injuries in the workplace, and an education programme aimed at providing training and skills development to local residents. They are also supporting a thriving and large scale livestock and dairy revitalisation programme.
As I spoke with some of the workers and managers at Zimplats, I was struck by their dedication and passion for their work. Many of the workers have been with the company for years and spoke proudly of the role they played in producing some of the world’s most valuable metals.
But Zimplats isn’t without its challenges. Like many mining companies, the company has faced environmental and social concerns over its operations, particularly around issues such as land use and water management.
The company has responded by implementing a range of measures to mitigate its impact on the environment and local communities, including investing in water treatment and conservation programmes and working closely with local stakeholders to address their concerns.
As I left Zimplats and headed back to Harare, I couldn’t help but feel impressed by the scale of the operation and the commitment of the workers and managers to producing PGMs in an environmentally and socially responsible way.
With annual earnings of over USD 1.4 billion, Zimplats is not only a major contributor to Zimbabwe’s economy, but also a shining example of how mining can be done in a way that benefits both the company and the community it serves.
To that end, on the 14th of July 2023, Buy Zimbabwe in partnership with MEJRKH Communications will be hosting the Great Dyke Awards and book launch to recognize outstanding achievements by individuals and companies in various sectors, which includes mining, agriculture, tourism, and the manufacturing industry operating in the Great Dyke.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the guest of honour. The President will also launch the Great Dyke booklet which documents the investment opportunities in the region.