The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE multi-million-dollar copper mining venture at the Gwayi River Mine is set to resume operations with the proprietors embarking on refurbishment works as part of the first stages of operationalising it.
The mine, said to be the third largest copper mine in the country was last fully operational in 1979 when South African-based Transvaal Corporation abandoned it owing to the falling global copper prices.
At the attainment of the ceasefire period following the country’s armed struggle the mine became an Assembly Point for ZPRA forces.
However, according to the new owner of the mine, Bulawayo lawyer, Mr Dumisani Dube, all is now in place for the mine to resume operations.
He revealed that they were at advanced stages of discussions with an American investor but noted that already they had channeled in money towards the refurbishment of the tunnels and the equipment was in place.
“As you might know, this is a capital intensive venture. Personally to date I have put in over US$30 000 to the venture, I also have partners that have channeled in about US$500 000, to just refurbish the tunnels and prepare the machinery so we are able to remove the copper ore for milling then refinery and to also try and export it.
“The advantage we are at right now is that when Transvaal Corporation left the country they left over 100 000 tonnes of copper ore which they had milled, so before even mining the first task will be to haul out the copper ore then we can start mining. However, we are ready to start the mining venture, we are already at advanced discussions with an investor from America,” said Mr Dube.
He said through a study they had carried out they estimated that the mine had between 300 000 and 600 000 tonnes which he said they would refine before exporting.
“The last entity to mine there was Transvaal Corporation that left the country in 1979 because of the war and the falling copper prices globally, so no one has really mined that area since then. 10 years ago the mine was taken over by the Wang Gong family that spent about US$45 million refurbishing the mine because it had been lying idle for a very long period. In terms of estimate copper ore which is at the mine currently its between 300 000 and 600 000 tonnes. Fortunately, enough from the time we took over, globally, because of the demand for electric cars, copper prices are at a 48 year all high, so it’s now lucrative to mine copper,” said Mr Dube.
Globally, as at yesterday, copper was pegged at US$8.16 a kilogramme, meaning the mining could be worth between US$2.4 billion and US$4.9 billion.
On the ownership of the mine, Mr Dube revealed that he had bought the entity following a boardroom fight within the previous owners who had also felt it was not lucrative to mine copper due to the unattractive global prices of the mineral.
“There was an opportunity which availed itself, the previous shareholders of Gwayi River Copper Mine had a serious board room fight and they left the country. One of their key advisors who is also my partner in other gold mining ventures advised me that there was an asset which has potential.
“At the time copper prices were at their lowest so no one really wanted to peg copper claims. We pegged the copper claim just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and at the time we did not realise the value of that venture up until I had numerous Chinese, Russian and American investors wanting to buy that claim. I then decided to go on the ground and discovered that we were on the old Gwayi River Mine,” he said.
Previously, the mine’s owner revealed that he had embarked on numerous failed gold mining ventures but noted that his past experiences had taught him a lot in terms of running his current copper mining venture.
“In terms of the future, we are mooting with the idea of listing with the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange. It might sound as a crazy idea but it’s a challenge to ourselves that we can do this.
“To my memory there is no company from Bulawayo which I have seen listing at the VFEX. Further, it is my belief that not everyone should leave the country in search of greener pastures but we can work hard here in Zimbabwe and help develop the nation,” said Mr Dube.