In Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare, Turnall Holdings Limited has secured a $5 million loan from the American financial institution PTA Bank. This loan will be used to purchase equipment for a new plant that will manufacture products that do not contain asbestos. A recent ban on asbestos products has forced many companies that once produced asbestos-laced goods to, quite literally, clean up their act.
Turnall chairman Herbert Nkala said, "The equipment being purchased is to manufacture asbestos-free products for the South African market in response to the asbestos ban that has since been promulgated in that country.” Asbestos exposure has been conclusively linked to the development of mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
This cancer affects thousands of people all over the world each year. In the United States, mesothelioma affects less than 3,000 patients each year. No cure exists, but chemotherapy, surgery, and drugs like Alimta® may improve quality of life for those suffering from this disease. Mesothelioma has a latency period of up to 50 years. Once the first symptoms of mesothelioma develop, the disease rapidly moves through the body, often killing within mere months.
The South African asbestos ban affects plants located elsewhere in Africa who sell to the South African market. The plant in Zimbabwe is scheduled to open in about one year. Turnall also has holdings in Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. Sales of the non-asbestos products are expected to commence in the first quarter of next year. Prior to the ban, the sale of Zimbabwe’s chrysotile asbestos brought in $60 million each year.