Zim to seize unused mines

HARARE - Zimbabwe plans to seize unused mines and hand them to productive local and international miners, the country's Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa said.

He said government would repossess the non-productive miners’ claims.

“Those fortunate enough to have these claims must use them. Let me take this opportunity to encourage those that sit on concessions to seriously begin to work on these properties so that they can contribute towards national economic growth,” Chidhakwa said at the commissioning of Zimbabwe and Russia’s $3 billion platinum project in Darwendale on Tuesday.

“We are not in support of such selfish practices, and government is going to repossess such claims,” he warned, adding that some companies “hold concessions merely for speculative purposes at the expense of the nation”.

He said there were numerous investors, local and foreign, who were eager to begin mining operations in Zimbabwe, but were being crowded out by unproductive concession holders.

“They are holding onto the mines and chasing away potential investors. We cannot have this as a government,” he said.

This comes as Justice minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week took a swipe at unproductive miners.

Mnangagwa, who was speaking at Huchu Stadium in Mvuma, said Athens Mine — closed despite having rich gold deposits — must immediately restart production.

“Their days are numbered, unless they start production. There are many Zimbabweans who will put that mine to good use and shield themselves from economic hardships,” he said.

Athens Mine was shut down last year after the owners removed all equipment and handed over the running of the operations to a group of workers who are currently manning the area.

The owners cited viability challenges. This comes as government is looking into bids for the development and installation of a mining cadastre information system.

The system — an electronic register showing details of ownership and value of land; for the purpose of taxation — is expected to help Zimbabwe ascertain the number of players in the mining sector and also assist in the administration of the industry’s activities.

Apart from ownership details, the system will also record miners’ geographical location, time validity of their mining rights and details on compliance with payment of fees and other requirements to keep a concession valid.

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