RioZim seeks court intervention

HARARE - Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed resources group RioZim Limited (RioZim) yesterday filed an urgent High Court application to bar politicians from disrupting operations at its Renco gold mine.

What started off as a salaries and benefits dispute by the mine’s workers’ wives last week, turned political with Zanu PF Chivi south legislator Irvine Dzingirai reportedly taking over operations at the Masvingo-based mine.

Following the labour unrest, reports say, Dzingirai declared himself the new owner of Renco while Masvingo South MP and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi has allegedly been involved in deliberations between workers and RioZim to solve the pandemonium.

Lawyers representing RioZim, Dube, Manikai and Hwacha yesterday confirmed filing the urgent chamber application that seeks to restore normal operations at the mine.

“At this point the mine is operating, but the company is being prevented from managing and indeed exercising control of its assets,” RioZim said yesterday.

 “This has had significant negative impact on the cashflows of the company,” the group said, adding that several attempts had been made to resolve the issue amicably without any success.

“All other avenues to seek a prompt resolution are being pursued.”

The workers’ strike was joined by villagers who were accusing RioZim of failing to honour its corporate responsibility pledge to contribute to the development of their community, which surrounds the mine.

Saviour Kasukuwere, Indigenisation minister this week indicated that he was launching an investigation into the Renco mine crisis.

“We have deployed an investigative team consisting of police and some ministry officials because this has to do with law and order since there are now elements that are claiming ownership of the mine,” he said.

RioZim formerly owned by Rio Tinto has subsidiaries in the country including Renco Gold Mine, Empress Nickel Refinery and Sengwa Colliery (Pvt) Ltd in Gokwe. The listed concern also holds a 22 percent interest in Murowa Diamonds (Pvt) Ltd.

GEM Raintree acquired a 24 percent stake in RioZim last year and became the majority shareholder in the mining company followed by Old Mutual.

Last September, RioZim projected that production at Renco Gold Mine would increase by 25 percent bouyed by development work at the mine.

“Development work and a vamping project at Renco Gold Mine should see ore production increase by 25 percent to a target gold production of 100kgs by the first quarter of 2013,” the company said then. - Eric Chiriga and John Kachembere

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