Let's find common ground: Mhembere

HARARE - Newly-elected Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) president Alex Mhembere says mining industry’s key stakeholders must engage in constant and constructive dialogue as part of efforts to find common ground on mines and minerals development.

This comes as CoMZ has reportedly rejected government’s proposal to control the country’s mineral production and prices.

Last month, the Mines ministry proposed the auctioning of mineral deposits, restriction on production of commodities deemed strategic and that the State sell the output from all mines.

In his inaugural speech, Mhembere said it was not a “one way street” that Zimbabwe required a policy framework on minerals and mining development.

“Whilst I am sure some of my colleagues are exhausted from responding to questions such as “what is the use of nickel, what is the use of chrome, what is the use of tantalite, are we getting enough from the export of our minerals?”

The lack of understanding and knowledge of what we do and how we do it continues to lead to suspicion that we are not contributing enough to the country,” he said.

Mhembere, also chief executive of platinum group metals producer Zimbabwe Platinum Mines Limited, said it was important for stakeholders to start appreciating the role communications play in the mining industry.

“Understandably, we cannot use ‘megaphone diplomacy’ to communicate our position on complex legal or technical matters, nevertheless we can educate and inform the population about our industry, key market dynamics and the extent and nature of our contribution to the economy to date, both direct and indirect.”

In addition to changes in the marketing of minerals, the Mines ministry also proposed the introduction of new taxes.

It suggested a resource rent tax, defined as a tax on profits in excess of an average national return on investment.

However, Mhembere said that the mining industry’s role is not to oppose government but partner in seeking the same national goal and aspiration.

“We will re-establish our pivotal role as architects of mining and mineral development as the other side of the government coin and lead the national debate on transparency in the mining sector,” he said.

Mhembere said despite the mining industry being a complicated sector that has to respond to global market sentiments, at the mercy of demand, supply and a bit of speculation, it is at the same time dependent on people and common alignment for shared advantages. - Kudzai Chawafambira

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