2019 marks the third year since I took the maiden journey into the rough and tumble world of mining. Unlike other journeys this one has left me with a lot of scars and stories to share.
The folktales and myths around mining are hard to resist. Hardly anyone tells you, mining is not for the faint-hearted. The common story with mining is your pocket will break from instant riches. My experience suggests otherwise.
Mining is a business. You must work hard. You need to know your industry. You must be patient. You need capital and generally lots of it. You need the right kind of people around you and certainly you must operate on sound information.
I grew up in the mining town of Zvishavane and so mining was never a distant proposition for me. Yet for some strange reason I never thought one day I would join the industry.
On reﬂection, it had to do with the fact that as we grew up the successful miners were not owners but managers in Shabani Mine and later Mimosa Mining Company. These are the one that drove beautiful cars and stayed in upmarket residence like Chinda Heights and Platinum Park.
The only African we knew who had ventured into serious mining was Mutumwa Mawere. Even then rumours were that he had either secured a government guarantee or been lucky to get the backing of some rich fellas during his stay in USA.
It was inconceivable that an African can own their own mine. There were no inspirational stories from small scale miners other than seeing them drinking themselves dead at the nearby downtown night club. If the truth be told small scale mining was associated with dirt and violence. It could not be put on the same pedestal as business.
Naturally after university I chose a diﬀerent life. For a while things seemed as they should be. I had a beautiful ﬂat I had secured through a 25 year mortgage. I drove a brand new car I could change every ﬁve years as long as I paid my loan. Mine was a typical upper middle class existence supported by debt.
Matters took a turn on one of my visits to Zvishavane. A friend invited me to his house so he could take money to contribute to our evening bills. He nicely led me to his not so beautiful living quarters behind a dilapidated structure. His dwellings were nowhere close to the ﬂat I lived in South Africa. I silently thanked God for blessing me with the life I had.
In the corner of his one roomed cottage stood an old refrigerator I suspected had been passed to him by his grandmother. It did not seem to work which raised my concern why he seemed so intent on opening it. What followed is part of the reason I quit my job to try mining.
The refrigerator was packed with crispy United States dollars. I counted US $10 000 and thousands more of rand. He clearly noticed the shock on my face as I wondered whether this friend I had known for such a long time was now a drug dealer. After all, how could a man who lived in such a dilapidated building have so much cash?
As I pondered on his profession a fresh US $100 dollar bill was thrown my way.
‘You are clearly in shock but this my friend is what mining can do. I never thought I could handle so much money but here I am not complaining one bit. In fact I will be leaving the rented house in a month’s time to the new house I have been building in Izayi Park,” he said before locking his fridge and inviting me to exit on our way to the bar.
To be continued next Friday.