The piece “Mzimba gemstone miner to scale up value addition” featured below was initially published in Malawi’s Mining & Trade Review Issue Number 30 that is circulating this October 2015.
The full edition is available for download here. This monthly publication is edited by Marcel Chimwala.
Mzimba gemstone miner to scale up value addition
…Group seeks market for processed stones
By Deborah Manda
Mzimba based, Zimkole Mining Group (ZMG), is pursuing plans to scale up value addition activities in order to do away with middlemen who buy rough stones at unrealistically low prices and sell them at a whooping profit after processing.
Mining Manager for Zimkole Mining Group Yamikani Jimusole says the company has outlined a number of beneficiation activities, which will result in soaring of revenue and increased job opportunities for the local communities in the next five years.
We want to establish a plant where women, the youth and disadvantaged groups can be economically and technically empowered through beneficiation initiatives such as beading, tumbling, production of ornaments and garden stones,
He tells Mining & Trade Review that since ZMG is a women-owned company they encourage women to join mining activities and take up roles such as washing the stones, sorting, grading and cooking for the miners besides the actual mining.
Presently Zimkole Mining Group has over 20 employees and we ensure that we pay them in line with government minimum wage requirements. We also provide accommodation, food and soap to the workers,
Jimusole also says the company engaged a renowned Geologist Grain Malunga (FIMMM) who undertook a Gemstone resource analysis in its licence areas.
The idea was to have a clear idea of the resource situation in our licence areas. We did not want to be like primitive small scale miners who just operate aimlessly, spending power and money on a mine that is unlikely to produce,
Jimusole says the results of the survey were encouraging as three out of the five mines that the company has namely Kondwani, Kacheure and Puye have shown high potential in recovery of gem aquamarine.
The outcome of the study, however, indicated that resource quantification is difficult because of the geological nature of occurrences of the gemstone.
The analysis concluded that the frequencies of recovery of gemstone show that the three mines have high productivity and economic potential to support mechanised mining.
Currently we have suspended sales because we have embarked on an exercise to identify the real buyers. We want to sell already processed stones in order to maximize our profits because we feel that middlemen have exploited us for a long time. It is high time we found a proper market for our products hence we are appealing to various stakeholders to help us identify proper markets,
ZMG has a Business Development Consultant who is currently formulating a business plan.
In addition to market constraints, the other challenges the company is encountering include low production due to the use of primitive mining tools and scarcity of water sources around the mines.
ZMG, which is a women-owned company, was founded by Agnes Gausi and later in 2014 she partnered with Tinyade Kachika, a lawyer by profession. They have five mining claims in Mzimba, four in Perekezi forest reserve namely Kacheure, Puye, Tinyade and Kondwani mines and one near Mzimba Boma called Praise.
The five mines form pegmatite hills whose main resource is aquamarine. Kacheure, Tinyade and Praise mines also contain rose quartz which is an ornamental stone.
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