Message Ven 20 Fév 2015 09:33

Nyimba cements project shows hope

*client of Mawe*

NEWS about the feasibility study for the construction of a cement factory in Nyimba has generated a lot of interest in the district and spreading like fire in Eastern Province.
Once operational, the project under GTJ Cement Limited will dramatically turn around the fortunes of the mainly agricultural district fondly referred to as the ‘banana city’ due to massive banana production.
As things stand, Nyimba is poised to assume a status similar to that of Chilanga, which for decades has been home to the largest cement mine and plant.
Chilanga is considered as the cradle of most of Zambia’s landmark and iconic concrete structures.
The Nyimba project is expected to be a milestone development in the imminent transformation of the socio-economic status of the district as Zambia’s other districts and cities gradually transform into ‘concrete jungles’ owing to the availability of affordable cement.
GTJ Cement Limited project manager Sydney Makuya explained that exploration works commenced in 2014 around Chimbwi area where the company delineated the resource.
Mr Makuya said in an interview in Nyimba recently that the deposits were, however, not enough.
He said management later engaged Mawe Exploration and Technical Services (METS) Limited, a subsidiary of Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings.
“So we started exploration works with METS in early 2015 in Malubambe area where the limestone from the outcrop is extensive such that we expect to get a good resource. We have engaged local authorities who have allowed us to further do exploration in our licence area,” Mr Makuya expounded.
He added that the works commenced with rock chip sampling which involved collection of top rocks.
The samples were later taken to for testing and the company obtained very good results, ‘fuelling’ confidence to embark on diamond drill exploration.
“The results of the exploration are giving us hope and that they are ranging between 45-50 percent grades in comparison to the standard and recommended result of 35 percent for cement samples.
“Malubambe area has huge ‘cement’ deposits which can result in large-scale ‘cement mining’ that can last up to 80 years,” Mr Makuya said.
And GTJ Mining Limited managing director Robert Mtonga said the firm and METS are also planning another detailed exploration for phosphate for the development of a fertilizer project in Eastern province.
Mr Mtonga said the company and its subsidiaries will target secondary stock market to enable more Zambians to invest and participate in mining after detailed exploration for the right raw material for both projects are concluded.
“It is no doubt that the project will have massive impact on the people of Nyimba. It will create 255 direct jobs in the district and impact positively on 1,326 lives,” he observed.
Nyimba has a population of over 85000 people.
District commissioner George Phiri is thrilled because the development is expected to create jobs.
Mr Phiri said in an interview recently that Nyimba is expected to grow and contribute significantly to the country’s economic growth.
“We also expect most small-scale transporters to upgrade themselves because there will be need to transport cement owing to the proximity of Nyimba to Mozambique and Malawi,” Mr Phiri observed.
Nyimba is also near the Chipata-Mchinji railway line which connects to the seaport of Nacala in Mozambique. “We further expect improved housing units and road network and an upgraded electricity power generation,” he said.
He appealed to relevant ministries to expedite the processing of necessary documents and also create an enabling environment for the project. “This will ensure cement production becomes a dream come true for Nyimba residents,” he added.
Mr Phiri said Government would ensure that any possible displacement of people and subsequent compensation are amicably handled.
He said the development is testimony that Nyimba could record significant economic gains like other economically viable regions such as the Copperbelt.
“I am sure that if lime can be found here, the same can be true about Petauke because it is near and there is information to that effect although the confirmed deposits are in Nyimba,” he said.
Mr Phiri said Nyimba residents were expecting lower cement prices which could help vulnerable people in villages to build strong and decent houses.
He said cement production would also enhance the construction of schools and health facilities in the district.
“The cost of constructing these facilities has been high because we transport cement from Lusaka which is over 330 kilometres away,” Mr Phiri said.
On concerns about agriculture activities scaling down once cement production commence, Mr Phiri said the sector may in fact record gains due to high demand for food as the population is expected to grow.
He said Government will further ensure that a milling company is established to produce mealie meal locally unlike buying the commodity from Lusaka.
Mr Phiri also urged GTJ Cement Limited to comply with tax obligations when it commences production.
“I expect the company which is wholly Zambian owned to be above board and comply with tax obligations and declare profits that they would obtain,” Mr Phiri said.
And Chief Ndake of the Nsenga said the development is exciting because of its economic value.
“It is exciting in the sense that I know in my minimum knowledge that a cement factory provides many jobs,” the traditional leader said.
Chief Ndake observed that cement production would attract auxiliary industries and result in economic empowerment, and therefore significantly transform livelihoods of his subjects.
He also urged government to support the investor.
“I am pleading with government that it should not drag its feet if they feel that this investor has the capacity to do this,” he said.
Chief Ndake noted that the construction industry is a job-spinner because it attracts both skilled and non-skilled labour.
The chief also called for expanded power generation in Nyimba to support the project.
“The challenge is that we don’t have enough capacity to provide electricity to run the cement factory. I am therefore appealing to government to tackle this challenge so that it is not a hindrance.
“Another challenge is the issue of land where to construct the factory and some locals may have to be displaced. We have to look at ways to reorganise those affected and ensure they have a better life,” he said.
The chief advised his subjects to take advantage of the development and get jobs. He said other people should set up food production to meet the anticipated high demand due to population growth.
Chief Ndake said the local authority would also get spill-over benefits from land rates and market levies.
“This must not be trivialised, we are looking forward to better social infrastructure such as hospitals and schools in view of a project of this nature,” he said.