ZIMBABWE’s premier mining showcase, the Mining, Engineering and Transport (Mine Entra) 2014 edition, opened on July 23 in Bulawayo, with strong support from countries still interested in tapping Zimbabwe’s vast mineral resources. South Africa, Germany, China, Belgium, Nigeria and Botswana are displaying their products at the exhibition, which runs until Friday. Economic observers said high participation, the best in the history of the exhibition, was an “expression of confidence” in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.
Bekithemba Nkomo, chairman of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair company that runs the exhibition, said 91% of capacity had been taken up by 185 exhibitors and inquiries were made up to the last minute.
“To date, over 4,600m² of exhibition space has been sold, ” said Mr Nkomo. “Our international exhibitors will be showcasing chemicals, conveyors, drilling equipment, pumps, rubber, hoses and mineral-processing equipment…. The exhibition has also attracted small-scale miners, including the Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale Council for Sustainable Mining.
“We have also invited Women in Mining and other mining groups that have traditionally supported the expo.”
The 19th edition of the Mine Entra has the theme, “Innovation, Beneficiation, Growth”. Mr Nkomo said the exhibition showcased innovative technologies for beneficiation and how these could be leveraged to derive macroeconomic benefits. Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa is to give the keynote address on Wednesday at a mining conference on the sidelines of the exhibition.
A Joint Suppliers and Producers Conference, which provides a discussion forum for mines as well as downstream and upstream industries in the value chain, will take place on Thursday and will be presided over by Industry and Trade Minister Mike Bimha. Despite Mine Entra being held against a backdrop of concern over Harare’s 51% indigenisation laws, company closures, deindustrialisation and the effects of power cuts on the mining sector, industry experts said interest in Zimbabwe’s mining sector was at a record high.
“There are more exhibitors than ever before and that is an expression of confidence in the mining industry,” Eric Bloch, a senior partner at H&E Bloch Consultancy, said.
Mining is a key growth sector and a high number of foreign investors are waiting on the sidelines as they monitor the government’s commitment to rethinking the indigenisation laws. The power deficit is also likely to come under scrutiny as power cuts hamper attempts to revive the mining industry.