Sikhumbuzo Moyo [email protected]
Premier African Minerals owned Zulu Lithium will soon be setting up a 20-hectare paprika irrigation scheme to benefit 26 displaced Fort Rixon families in Insiza district, Matabeleland South.
The 26 families were displaced following the setting up of the lithium mine whose owners have to date invested US$80 million in the project.
Speaking during a tour of the mine last week by the Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura, Zulu Lithium general manager Mr Jabulani Chirasha said the company has applied for land to set up the project which was inspired by the company chairman Mr George Roach who loves paprika.
He said the company will bring in agriculture experts to teach villagers how to grow and manage the crop and once ripe, Zulu Lithium will purchase it and proceeds will be shared by villagers.
The mine has already started constructing a dam that will have a water carrying capacity of two million cubic metres, with 60 percent of its capacity being utilised by the community.
In February, a 17-member team from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development was deployed to Fort Rixon where they spent more than a week pegging stands for the villagers, especially for the five families that were within the mine premises.
The mine poured US$336 000 through construction of a road, building houses and will soon be providing piped water to the community.
At the moment, the five families are being provided with water from bowsers.
Mr Chirasha said over and above the construction of houses, the mine will be paying each family US$100 per month and pay school fees for their children up to the age of 21 years.
“We understand that we are in their territory and as Zulu Lithium, we want the community to continue with their normal lives but over and above that, we shall be paying them for their land. We don’t want our local community to feel abandoned by our coming here but instead they must feel empowered.
“The irrigation plant that we are setting will have a long-lasting effect on this place, it will create employment for the locals and also food security which is in line with the vision of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa,” said Mr Chirasha.
During the tour, Deputy Minister Kambamura assured management that Government will make sure that the land application for the irrigation scheme is successful.
“The vision has always been not to leave anyone and any place behind. Zulu Lithium, besides their huge national investment are also empowering locals where they are doing their business and as Government we shall make sure that they get the piece of land they seek. We are encouraging other companies and investors coming to the country to emulate what this company is doing in terms of capacitating communities they are operating from, this is massive,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
The Deputy Minister said Zimbabwe is indeed open for business and in line towards achieving the US$12 billion mining economy by year-end as well as its vision of having an upper middle-income economy by 2030.
The country’s mining revenues have grown from US$2,7 billion in 2018 to US$5,3 billion in 2021.
Lithium is a mineral used in the manufacture of batteries and its demand has risen sharply because of the demand for electric cars, especially in developed countries, which are forging ahead with plans to phase out fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel in the next coming years. The Zulu project is generally regarded as potentially the largest undeveloped lithium-bearing pegmatite in Zimbabwe, covering a surface of about 3,5 square kilometres, which are prospectively for lithium and tantalum mineralisation.
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