Asbestos has been responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people Worldwide, so it seems unbelievable to think that Asbestos Mining is to Resume in Zimbabwe after a $100million loan was secured from the Chinese government-owned company XCMG in a bid for the African country to resurrect over 20 asbestos mines.
Zimbabwe – a country which is struggling economically as reductions in diamond mining leave thousands in poverty – was once a major exporter of asbestos. The country’s government hopes that reopening asbestos mines will create 100,000 new jobs with 234 mines being planned in total.
Asbestos has long been linked to fatal respiratory diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis and is banned for use in 55 countries, but is still used freely in some countries such as India due to its low cost.
“We are going to sell our products to Russia, India and Kazakhstan before the end of the year. The two mines only require about $20m to be recapitalised and we are going to utilise the loan facility to start production” said Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa.
“We are going to sell our [asbestos] products to Russia, India and Kazakhstan before the end of the year.”
It seems that profit has been considered more important than health by the Zimbabwean government who appear to see mining a deadly mineral to be a quick way to jump-start its economy.
Given the evidence against the use of asbestos containing materials it is highly likely that Zimbabwe will suffer a large rise in asbestos-related deaths in the next 20 to 40 years. Not only does the country risk a huge expense in treating people for lung diseases, but may also face a huge compensation bill in the future.
Surely this is short sighted profiteering which will only leave the country worse off in the future whilst encouraging the use of a deadly material in other countries?