Saturday, June 14, 2008

Zimbabwe Could Face Massive Layoffs due to South African Asbestos Ban

Widespread panic is enveloping the Zimbabwean asbestos industry following a South African ban on asbestos earlier this year. South Africa has been one of Zimbabwe's largest trading partners for asbestos. According to a recent article in the country's Financial Gazette, an estimated 10,000 Zimbabwean workers' jobs could be affected by the ban. This article provides some great insight on the pressures being felt in the worldwide asbestos increase and the need to provide sustainable alternative industries when banning more harmful ones. From the Gazette article:

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has said the use of asbestos has been on the decline worldwide due to the hazards reportedly associated with the mineral.

“The market in now concentrated in developing countries primarily the Far East, Middle East, India, Sri Lanka and Brazil,” said the MMCZ in its strategic plan for 2005 to 2007.

“Sustainability is dependent on controlled production as the market is shrinking,” added the MMCZ.

Zimbabwe commands a nine percent market share of the global asbestos market.

While several European countries have developed new industries to develop alternatives to asbestos products, smaller and poorer economies in other parts of the globe have struggled to find a new niche. There needs to be a concerted effort on the part of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat and the European Green Movement to provide such alternatives.

No comments: