Government is mulling listing its interest housed under state mining vehicle Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange as part of a broad-based empowerment initiative expected to see shareholding cascade to the general public, a top government official has said.
In an interview with businessdigest this week, Mines minister Obert Mpofu said groundwork to list shares owned by ZMDC in various mining companies was at an advanced stage.
“ZMDC is not like an investment company, but a warehouse of people’s shares and very soon we will be releasing those shares to the people,” Mpofu said.
“ZMDC and indeed MMCZ (Minerals Marketing Corporation of ZImbabwe) might go the route of listing, especially ZMDC.
“We are working on that, the permanent secretary (in the Mines ministry Prince Mupazviriho) is working on that project which will ensure that people get their shares through ZDMC and this is quite current.”
Mpofu said progress on the policy considerations were at an advanced stage and are in line with the new Mines and Mineral Policy which government is currently working on.
Mpofu said although state resources were said to be benefiting a few individuals, his department was aware of the broader economic contribution made by mining companies and the proposed listing of ZMDC would ensure direct public access to the shares.
Speaking specifically about the future of diamond mining and the role of indigenous players, Mpofu said the country was considering going it alone to maximise on benefits to Zimbabwean locals.
“What we are going to do now, and I have strong views about that, is we have acquired experience and our people have learnt a lot from the investment in the diamond sector that we may not even need foreign investors in that field,” he said.
Mpofu’s remarks follow similar statements by President Robert Mugabe that the country was well-equipped to start diamond mining operations through local consortia without foreign partnership.
“This is something that we are working on. We have learnt a lot from our partners who are already there and we might need some foreign partnership to a limited level, but the thrust should be to empower our people to do it themselves through mining and taking active participation in the development of the mining sector, not only for diamonds, but for various minerals as well,” said Mpofu.
Currently, there are five registered diamond miners operating in Marange while two players are at different stages of registering.
Mpofu, would not be drawn to give details of the new applicants, but insisted the new ventures would be modelled in a way beneficial to indigenous players.
The beauty about this model, Mpofu said, was that ZMDC maintains a minimum 50% stake in all the diamond mines.
Last year, the World Bank said the vast Marange diamonds were cheaper to mine because they are alluvial.
The bank said overall diamond production in Zimbabwe could reach 15,2 million carats a year by 2018 with an investment of US$150 million.
ZMDC was established by an Act of Parliament in 1982 and is involved in the mining of diamond, gold and emeralds.
It is one of the major foreign currency earners in the country through its shareholding in Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Corporation, Anjin Investments, Sabi Gold Mine, Jena Gold Mines and has taken over Shabanie Mashaba Mine.