The Sunday Mail
Gvt gets tough on speculators
Firm holds to title from the 70s with no production
Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Government will, in the next three months, start repossessing mineral claims from mining companies and individuals that are holding them for speculative purposes amid revelations some have been sitting on the mining titles since the early 1970s without producing, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.
He said Government has since written to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (COMZ), which represents the mining houses, for their input on how it should proceed with the plan in a manner that is beneficial to the economy.
In an interview Minister Chitando said Government was alive to the fact that most minerals, especially the base metals, were operated with a 25 to 30 years life plan, adding this will also be taken into consideration.
He said where there is no production, but companies are doing exploratory work, development and testing, Government will not disturb them.
“Government is coming up with regulations to enforce the “use it or lose it” principle,” said Minister Chitando, “The background to this is that we do have entities which held vast pieces of mining concessions, which are not being utilised.
“In one particular province we have an entity, which has been holding a rich mining concession since the 1970s and all they do is, every year, pay renewal fees for that concession and with the economic development thrust we have for Vision 2030, surely this can’t continue.
“. . . it is only fair for the country that such concessions be made available to those who have use for them,” he said.
Without giving much away, Minister Chitando said there is also a “very prospective gold concession” that has been lying idle but with fees being paid timeously.
He said upon inquiries by Government, its owners began production averaging 250 grammes per month against Government expectations of up to 30kg per month.
“We have advised the Chamber of Mines of Government’s intention, we have asked them to come up with their own views on how the issue should be tackled and as Government, we will also be fine-tuning our course of action,” said Minister Chitando.
“We are expecting the Chamber of Mines’ submissions this February and our position will be spelt out by end of April and, thereafter, amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act will be effected,” he said.
The thrust by Government is aimed at growing mineral export earnings from US$2, 38 billion achieved last year to US$12 billion annually in line with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030 by which time the country should attain upper middle-income status.
Minister Chitando said the new legal provisions to be proposed, will also allow Government to ensure all mining assets produce output that is in sync with exploratory backed potential.
Zimbabwe is not the first country to get tough on the “use it or lose it” principle.
South Africa, one of the major global mineral producers in May last year warned local miners, most of whom were placing their assets under care and maintenance, that Government would seriously look into the trend with a view to seeking corrective measures.
“The high number of mines and shafts under care and maintenance contribute heavily to the massive decline in both production and employment. In this regard we will meet companies that are culprits in these practices,” South African Mines Minister Gwede Mantashe told the media in May last year.
“We intend to discuss honestly and robustly on the use it or lose it principle, found in our law. Our mineral wealth must be exploited, not left unused, if we are to generate economic growth and impact on the development of society.
“It is in this context that we wish to invite mining companies that are involved in this practice to come and make presentations to the mineral resources department on why this situation pertains,” said Mantashe.