HomeBusiness DigestZim to host chrysotile asbestos conference

Zim to host chrysotile asbestos conference

Ndamu Sandu

ZIMBABWE will host an international conference on chrysotile asbestos in November as efforts to fight the anti-asbestos ban intensify.

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Both the asbestos-producing and consumingcountries will attend the November conference.

Asbestos-producing countries expected to grace the conference include Russia, Brazil, Canada and China while delegates from the consuming world will be drawn from South East Asia, the Middle East, India, South Africa and Nigeria among others.

SMM Holdings group public relations executive Regis Nyamakanga confirmed that the international conference would be held in November.

“The international conference is in November and the producing and consuming countries will meet. The date has not been fixed yet,” he said.

The November conference is organised by the Zimbabwe National Chrysotile Asbestos Taskforce (NCATF) and African Associated Mines (AA Mines).

AA Mines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMM Holdings, is the sole producer of white asbestos in Africa.

It incorporates Sha-banie Mine in Zvishavane and Gaths Mine in Mashava.

The November conference, Nyamakanga said, is a follow-up to the New Dehli conference held last year where the Zimbabwe delegation argued for the continued mining of chrysotile asbestos saying it was not harmful like brown or blue asbestos.

At the conference Zimbabwe’s high-powered delegation had among others the then Minister of Labour and Social Welfare July Moyo and former Minister of Mines and Mining Development Edward Chindori-Chininga, Edmund Ruzive president of the Associated Mine Workers Union, Regis Nyamakanga and Mutumwa Mawere who chairs the cash-rich Africa Resources Ltd (ARL) group.

ARL is the parent company of SMM.

Asbestos export re-ceipts in Zimbabwe generate in excess of US$40 million annually.

At least 94% of chrysotile asbestos produced in Zimbabwe is exported to international markets such as South East Asia, India and the Middle East among others.

Zimbabwe, backed by other world producers of chrysotile asbestos, last year foiled attempts to include chrysotile asbestos fibre on the list of pesticides and industrial chemicals requiring con-senting procedures for import and export between countries under the Rotterdam Convention.

The anti-chrysotile ban has been the brainchild of the European-based Green movement.

Nyamakanga said the campaign had the blessing of countries that produce alternative asbestos fibre.

In 2002 at the Inter-national Labour Organisation annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, another attempt was foiled to include a resolution that would have restricted the use of chrysotile asbestos.

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