The geology of Matabeleland province is a microcosm of the geology of the country in which almost all the geological terranes or types akin thereto occur across the province. This is indeed reflected in the high number of economic minerals or mineral types which occur elsewhere in the country also occurring in the province. The table below shows the economic minerals, their significant mine / district occurrences, including mine examples in the province and the geologic terranes in which they occur,

MINERAL

OCCURENCES / MINES

GEOLOGY

NOTES

Gold

How, Blanket, Vubachikwe, Jessie, Farvic, Fred, Freda, Antelope, Nubobs etc.

Greenstones

The province has been consistently been the highest gold producing provinces of the country in the recent past

Diamonds

River Ranch, Ngulube Pipes

Limpopo Mobile Belt, Granitic terrane

River Ranch started operations in 1992 but stopped operations in 2012

Coal

Tuli, Bubye

Karoo

Extensive exploration activity going on the Tuli coalfields

 

SUMMARY OF MAIN MINERALS FOUND IN MATABELELAND SOUTH OTHER THAN GOLD, COAL AND DIAMONDS

MINERAL

NOTES AND USES

DISTRICT

MINE(S) EXAMPLE

NICKEL

Used extensively in alloys, stainless steel, armour plating. Also in batteries

INSIZA – Shangani and Fort Rixon Greenstone Belts

Shangani, Epoch – BNC (Asa Group mines currently not operational)

CHROME

Used in metal alloys, refractories, chemical and foundry industries.

INSIZA – Great Dyke

Small scale mines, mainly elluvial based

AVENTURINE

Pale green fuchsite quartzite in which the fuchsite, the Cr bearing mica, occurs in minute inclusions that impart a sheen or schiller to the polished material – used as an ornamental stone.

BEITBRIDGE

Blue Grass, Greenhill, Jopempe, Luchewe

ARSENIC

Pesticides, Herbicides, Plant desiccants, defoliants, Wood preservative, Animal dips, Glass making.

GWANDA

Vubachikwe,

Champion – By-product of Au,

Hydra – Stand-alone Arsenic producer

BARYTES

Ba Sulphate, dense, used as weighting medium in drilling muds, Filler in rubber, paint, paper, glass and plastics

UMZINGWANE

STAFF– In arenaceous  Bulawayan metasediments

BALL CLAY

Floor and wall tiles Earthenware, sanitary ware, pottery, refractories

BEITBRIDGE Karoo Mudstones equivalent of Madumabisa of Hwange

Actfin, Alanna Claims

 

 

 

 

BISMUTH

Sulphide of Antimony, also a by-product of Cu and Pb mining. Used in industrial chemicals and pharmaceuticals

GWANDA Pegmatites

INSIZA

HORN

J.C.B. pegmatite

SYDKOM as B

GARNET

Gemstones, abrasives e.g. sand paper. Diamond indicator mineral.

BEITBRIDGE

Europe, Red Mite

CORUNDUM

Has gem varieties RUBY and SAPPHIRE-

2nd hardest naturally occurring after diamond. Used in lens grinding and polishing, metal burnishing and finishing and in refractory bricks

BEITBRIDGE

 

 

INSIZA

Andre, Baobab South, Bonus, Driftwood, Jonny, Mule, Red Mite

INSIZA - Corundu

LIMESTONE / MARBLE

Flux in IRON AND STEEL AND FERROCHROME, Fertilisers, Ornamentals, Tiles etc. Cement and Road construction

GWANDA , COLLEN BAWN, INSIZA, FILABUSI, MATOBO AND UMZINGWANE AND BEITBRIDGE

 

LEPIDOLITE (Lithium mineral)

Lightest metal and electrically most reactive, Used in batteries to improve efficiency. In ceramics and glasses to impart thermal shock resistance. Catalyst in rubber synthesis.

GWANDA, INSIZA  (Fort Rixon) pegmatites

Embizeni (Insiza)

M’beta (Gwanda)

MAGNESITE

MgCO3 Bricks manufacture in refractories, Fertilisers, catalyst

BEITBRIDGE (Limpopo Belt) AND INSIZA (Doro Range of Great Dyke)

 

PYRITE

Only source of industrial Sulphur in Zimbabwe. From H2SO4 used in industry  for fertilisers, iron and steel refining, plastics, paper and paints manufacture etc.

Gwanda, Bulilima (Mphoengs) associated with gold.

Freda, Hampden, Only, Primus, Unreliable -

Mphoengs

MONTIMORILLONITE occurs in rock Bentonite

Smectite clays which swell on wetting and shrink on drying. Used in construction and aggregates, in water tight constructions, also in drilling mud, fat decolouriser in oils, lubricants waxes and animal fats etc. 

Gwanda – greenstone belt

Cement Mine, supplies Collen Bawn.

Korbut claims

TANTALUM

Ductile, high melting point, strong corrosion resistance. More than half used in capacitors and other electronics. Also as carbides, corrosion-resistant chem. Processing ware. In refractory superalloys for aerospace industry

INSIZA

Sydkom – also produces tungsten

TUNGSTEN

HEAVY STONE / Wolfram, From Wolframite and Scheelite. From metamorphic and greenstone environments

Belt through Esigodini to Filabusi in scheelite, GWANDA, INSIZA, UMZINGWANE AND MATOBO. Usually lost in stamp milling as is a by-product of Au production. Circa 11% from Wolframite. Used in drill bits, abrasives, electric filaments and alloying for hardening e.g. rocket nozzles

Zulu Prospect, Sydkom, (INSIZA) , Lioness group (INSIZA), Richardson –WO3 in tonalite intrusive into greenstone - (UMZINGWANE) Good Hope / Bonsor, (UMZINGWANE), Good Hoop (MZINGWANE), Killarney (INSIZA). LEGION, (MATOBO).

UNAKITE

Formed by epidotisation of Bulai Gn. Association of pink and green colours – pink due to feldspars and green due to epidote. Used for lapidary and in carving.

BULAI GNEISS OF Limpopo Mobile Belt

 

 

Other minerals that occur in the province and have at one time or another have been exploited as tabulated below. The challenge of the provincial office is to resuscitate the mining of these ‘minor’ minerals where possible and convince the mining populace that gold is not the only mineral with which the province is endowed

MINERAL

DISTRICT OF OCCURENCE

BERLY

INSIZA

COBALT

INSIZA, GWANDA, BEITBRIDGE

CORDIERITE

BEITBRIDGE

FELDSPAR

UMZINGWANE

FLINTCLAY

BEITBRIDGE

GYPSUM

BEITBRIDGE

MOLYBDENUM

INSIZA

TALC

INSIZA

DOLOMITE

UMZINGWANE

 

Matabeleland South is principally a rural province renowned mainly for cattle rearing owing to its semi-arid climate. Gwanda, the provincial capital is the most recognisable urban settlement and significantly it is perhaps the only genuinely mining town in the province. Gwanda town host two major gold producers one of which ranks in the top ten of the country’s primary gold producers. Caledonia owned Blanket Mine, situated about 15 km from Gwanda is one of the most modern gold and best run mines in the country. It produces about 55 000 oz. of gold per annum and has a very vibrant community share ownership scheme in line with the country’s indigenisation policy. Also located in Gwanda is Vubachikwe mine which is adjacent to Blanket Mine to the immediate south of the former which has a the potential to grow to a world class mine given its resources.

About 20km south of Gwanda along the Bulawayo – Beitbridge highway is the giant PPC cement mine and plant at Collen Bawn exploiting the nearby limestone occurrence, which is entirely a mining settlement with notable agricultural activity taking place in the vicinity of the mine

Other quasi mining settlements in the province, Filabusi and Shangani have in the recent past fallen on hard times having been vibrant ‘towns’ in the period soon after nickel mining commenced at the two locations in the 1970s. They have recently fallen victim to the vagaries of depressed nickel prices which have seen operations cease at Shangani Mine and Epoch Mine in Filabusi. The two however remain significant gold mining localities albeit at the level of small scale mining with the Freda Mine in Filabusi potentially a mid-tier mine in waiting.

Beitbridge town, although primarily a border town, hosts the nearby River Ranch diamond mine. The mine, Zimbabwe’s first commercial kimberlite based diamond mine is currently moribund having first opened in 1992 and eventually going into liquidation in 2012. It estimated to hold c. 2.3 million carat in reserves in 9.8 million tonnes of ore. The mine is currently seeking investors for its resuscitation.

Not far from Beitbridge town to the north west is the Tuli coalfield. Tuli marks the point of entry of the Pioneer Column into the country in pursuit of the country’s gold riches. However coal was only discovered in the area in 1895 long after the Pioneer Column has set fort at Salisbury (Harare). The coalfield is currently undergoing major exploration and is known to have in excess of 30 Mt of coal reserves which can be beneficiated to at least 13 Mt of good quality low sulphur coking coal. The Bubye coalfield also in the environs of Beitbridge on the north bank of the Limpopo River has known coal reserves of up to 24 Mt.

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