ZIMBABWE will next week hold its first international mining conference in HarareÂ to come up with investor-friendly legislation to revive the under-performing sector and increase foreign participation.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu said the two-day conference slated for next Wednesday and Thursday will present significant opportunities to all potential investors.
â€œThere has never been a better time than now for investors to gain access to good mineral resources in the country,â€ Mpofu said.
Mining accounts for about 4% of the GDP and 16% of total annual foreign currency receipts.
Mpofu said topical issues to be discussed at the conference include the country’s mining industry investment climate, mineral resources, mining and indigenisation legislation andÂ strategies for the recovery of the industry.
â€œThe two days will provide a great opportunity for all of us who are interested in mining to share ideas on the latest developments in the sector. It also provides a platform for colleagues and stakeholders in the mining sector to network with a view to accelerate investment in Zimbabwe,â€ Mpofu said.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will give the opening address, while President Robert Mugabe will officially open the conference after Tsvangiraiâ€™s address.
Over 700 foreign and local delegates are expected to attend.
â€œOver 200 foreign delegates have registered, we expect the number to increase to 300 by September 16,â€ Mpofu said.
Several international mining executives, among them Tanzania Chamber of Mines president Emmanuel Jengo, South Africaâ€™s Public Investment Corp chief executive officer Fidelis Madavo and former chief executive officer of Harmony Gold Bernard Swanepoel are expected to attend. Â
Major minerals in the country are gold, platinum, asbestos, chrome, iron, platinum group of minerals, nickel, copper, and coal.
With the exception of chrome and nickel, production output of all other minerals declined between 1998 and 2008, as mining houses either scaled down operations or closed shop altogether as a result of the harsh economic environment.
The liberalisation measures introduced this year and the 100% retention of foreign earnings policy, as well as increased dialogue on investment and shareholding, are restoring confidence in the mining sector. This has allowed closed mines to reopen and resume operations, particularly in the gold sector.
â€œThe ongoing reforms in the operating environment and good geology make Zimbabweâ€™s mining sector an attractive investment destination,â€ Mpofu said.
Notwithstanding the above concessions, production in the mining sector will remain subdued as some mining houses such will remain closed for the better part of the year owing to viability challenges associated with the global financial crisis.
As a result, mining output is expected to record a decline of 11,2% in 2009.