Mines challenge land grab

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THE Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (CoMZ) will at its annual general meeting and conference slated for next week in Nyanga challenge government’s decision to repossess idle mining claims from mining companies for reallocation to new investors.

Taurai Mangudhla

At a pre-conference briefing, chamber president Winston Chitando said the mining body’s submissions for a new Minerals Development Policy, which interrogates clauses of the proposed land policy, are expected to be tabled before government via the Mines and Minerals Development ministry early next week, ahead of the conference.

“There are two specific issues; that of Zimplats and then there is a policy issue of taking over excess land.

“We have included the policy issue of taking excess land in the Minerals Development Policy, ie. what the definition of excess land is and how to handle a case where land is deemed to be excess,” said Chitando without being drawn to give specific details of the mining body’s argument.

“It would be most unfair that we have a document, and before we send a written submission, we start commenting publicly, it’s not the best way to negotiate,” he said.

“The general feeling among members (of CoMZ) is what defines excess land: that is the main issue, and again, the other issues will be covered.”

The CoMZ president said there were ongoing stakeholders’ consultative sessions after which a comprehensive paper covering a number of issues relating to mining charges, beneficiation  and administration of title culminating in what is excess land, would be produced.
The CoMZ will, together with the AGM, hold its annual conference which is expected to generally make submissions to government on key industrial concerns.
Government recently indicated plans to introduce higher royalties and taxes on mining firms in order to raise funding for the upcoming decisive elections.
In February, the Mines ministry repossessed 28 000 hectares of excess claims from Zimplats, amid looting and speculation concerns, a development minister Obert Mpofu said was to allow other players to invest in the sector.
The Mines minister argued that at current extractive rates, Zimplats would take 300 years to fully exploit its platinum resources along the Great Dyke.
Similar moves, according to Mpofu, were expected across the extractive industry, together with the introduction of high taxes on raw minerals, with a view to bringing in new investors and promoting local beneficiation of minerals.
At the time, Mpofu said: “As the sole regulator and promoter of the mining industry in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05), the ministry is focusing on the creation of real opportunities and investment space by making more land available for new investments, attracting new players into the industry and acting on excess and idle land.”

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