HARARE – A Chinese firm said on Thursday it had been given exclusive rights to mine coal and gold in Zimbabwe, where it has begun the recruitment of staff.

Zhong Jian Investments, did not say when it will start productions at the M-block claim in Hwange, which sits on the bulk of Zimbabwe’s estimated 15 billion metric tonnes of coal, as well as at a claim along the Mazoe River in Shamva, about 80 kilometres east of Harare.

But it said it was filling vacancies for mine managers, surveyors, forklift and excavator drivers as well as other workers.

“The company provides free food and accommodation, large development space and good salary,” the Zhong Jian said.

The firm’s move into Zimbabwe’s gold and coalfields will be a relief to the country’s labour market, which has been affected by mine closures in the past decade.

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) said recently that skilled workers were leaving the southern African country in droves to look for better paying jobs in neighbouring countries due to poor wages for those still employed.

Zimbabwe’s mining industry and workers representatives agreed to a wage hike on Monday last week following negotiations to ease workers plight under a grinding economic climate.

Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe president Tinago Ruzive, said in a statement the agreement inked with the CoMZ covered the period from January to March.

“This will raise the minimum wage for the mining industry from 1 200.01 Zimbabwe dollars (ZWL) to 3 450 ZWL,” Ruzive said.

This translates to a minimum wage of about US$67.

“This agreement is based on the dollar value principle, for those mines who may be paying above the minimum due to various reasons or merit. Therefore, no employee shall fail to get an increase,” the statement noted.

However, the increase falls short of the poverty datum line of $4 188 as at end of December 2019.