…as Chinese bypassed chrome mining rules

CHINESE chrome miners bypassed mining regulations after it emerged that six out of seven mining companies were operating without proper licencing in what could have prejudiced government of millions of United States dollars in revenue, a secretly kept report by a parliamentary committee has revealed.

Fidelity Mhlanga

A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that was chaired by the late Edward Chindori-Chininga unearthed a plethora of irregularities in chrome mining which militated against growth and high revenue streams in the sector.

The report, which covered the period 2011 to 2013, was largely ignored by government. The former mines minister died in a car crash in 2013.

The enquiry by the committee revealed an array of challenges inhibiting the growth of this sector which include an unevenly balanced claims structure, unfavourable prices of chrome both on the local and international markets, lack of investment into the sector, the disempowerment of mining communities and negative impact of high electricity tariffs and shortages.

Other inhibiting factors were conflicts between farmers and miners over land, massive environmental degradation by small-scale chrome miners as well as huge unsaleable stoke piles of chrome dotted around the country following the ban of chrome exports by government in 2011.

“The committee was concerned that out of the seven companies, only one company was able to confirm that it had adequate documentation legalising its operations in the country. The rest of the companies were evasive on how they acquired legal authority to operate in the country. When the committee made a field visit to one of the Chinese owned mines, Sanhei in Guruve, the workers complained of labour abuses, such as low pay and long working hours,” the report says.

The Chinese, the report shows, created the impression within the community and in some government institutions that they were protected by someone in a “very high office” in government as they defied Environmental Management Agency regulations.

The report says the country exported lumpy chrome, chrome fines and concentrates worth about US$53 million between 2009 to 2011 and treasury received about US$1 million dollars in royalties and about US$6,1 million from the 20% levy charged on chrome mining.