Relief for Mozambique as Mozal sends mozzies packing

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Environmentalists might hate it when heavy industry comes to developing countries. However, BHP Billiton's Mozal aluminium smelter has had a surprising side-effect - it has nearly wiped out malaria in Mozambique's southern region.

During construction of the R8billion smelter nine years ago, 13 workers died and 4000 others were infected on site despite implemented malaria control measures.

About 80percent of Mozambique's population was estimated to carry the dangerous malarial parasite.

The mining multinational established the Mozal Development Trust, which tackled the malaria problem by spraying small quantities of the poison DDT inside walls of homes and buildings, ensuring it did not pose a danger to humans and wildlife. The result was a 90percent cut in Malaria infections in children and 80percent less infections in the region's 4,7million population.

According to BHP, Mozal has also tripled Mozambique's economy.