'Govt finalising ZimAlloys land acquisition'

HARARE - Government is in the process of concluding the process of acquiring 22 000 hectares (ha) of land claims from ferrochrome producer, Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys), in order to “open the sector up to new miners” a Cabinet minister said.

Mines minister, Walter Chidakwa, last week told delegates at the recently ended Zanu PF annual conference that Zimbabwe’s largest ferrochrome producer, Zimasco — currently under provisional judicial management — had already handed over 22 000ha of land claims to government.

ZimAlloys holds a total of 39 175 hectares while Zimasco, the bigger of the two firms, early this year announced it had surrendered 22 700 ha out of its total claims covering 45 900 ha to government.

The two companies jointly control about 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s chrome ore claims, mostly found along the Great Dyke.

“...As we speak, we have put up 2,3 million ha under reserve for allocation to new players in the sector … Zimasco has already submitted 22 000ha and we are in the final stages of getting an additional 22 000ha from Zimalloys.

“This will benefit a lot of Zimbabweans who will use the land … So, please support the Mines and Minerals Act which gives the government the power to repossess mining land owned by the big mining companies.

“This law should be passed (in Parliament),” the minister said.

The minister pointed out that the State — which owns all land under the country’s new Mines and Minerals Act — wanted to give the ground to black Zimbabweans who needed it. 

“We will not release ground from State companies to the private sector.

“That will defeat the whole purpose of empowerment,” he said

This comes as Impala Platinum’s local unit, Zimplats, is battling the government in the Administrative Court over the take-over of its nearly 28 000 hectares of claims.

ZimAlloys — until 2003 an Anglo American subsidiary — was purchased by a consortium of local businessmen including banker Farai Rwodzi and Savanna Tobacco founder Adam Molai in 2006.

Since last year, Chidakwa —who early this year booted out all but two of the country’s diamond miners — was pressing the two miners to release some ground.

In earlier discussions, ZimAlloys had offered 20 percent of its total hectarage, demanding compensation for some work done to develop some claims, as well as some immovable equipment on underground claims.

But Chidakwa threw the proposal out.

On May 30, 2016, the Mines ministry wrote to ZimAlloys, giving the company up to June 7 to hand over half its claims, or risk having them appropriated.

Meanwhile, the minister said the mining industry has earned Zimbabwe about $1,76 billion this year, up $153 000 from the $1,6 billion mineral sales Zimbabwe grossed in 2015.

He said in during the year, gold had accounted for almost 50 percent of total mineral exports while platinum had contributed 42 percent with the rest of the minerals responsible for the balance.

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