Mozal wins war against Mozambique mozzies

Xolile Bhengu | 16 Oct 2023
The Times
The opening of BHP Billiton's Mozal aluminium smelter did more than just create jobs in southern Mozambique.

Mozal's malaria prevention programme has cut infections in children by 90percent, and 80percent overall in the region's 4.7 million people.

During construction of the R8-billion smelter nine years ago, 13 workers died and 4000 were infected on site despite malaria control measures.

About 80percent of Mozambique's population was estimated to carry the most dangerous malarial parasite, plasmodium falciparum, which is passed by bites from the female anopheles mosquitoes.

The mining multinational established the Mozal Development Trust, which tackled the malaria problem by spraying small quantities of dichloro-diphenyl- trichloroethane (DDT) on the inside walls of homes and buildings.

BHP has worked with the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative, a public private partnership among the governments of South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique. The project is also supported by the UN Global Fund.

LSDI is an agreement among the three sub-Saharan governments for economic development, transportation and community health across their borders.

The trilateral initiative identified malaria as the biggest hurdle in development for the sub-Saharan region.

The regions covered are KwaZulu-Natal's northeast, Swaziland's eastern region, and southern Mozambique.

Malaria was found by the World Health Organisation's research team to cost Africa's GDP 12- billion (R82-billion).

It said the disease accounted for 40percent of public health spending.

According to BHP, Mozal has tripled Mozambique's economy. During the primary smelter growth phase in 2001, it contributed to 55 percent of the country's exports and 20 percent of its imports.

Prior to the project, the country had R1.5-billion in export earnings, but by last year, it had tripled to R6.8-billion.