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Wide consultations needed on Mines Bill
Jeffrey Gogo, The Herald (Zimbabwe)
March 08, 2006

THE mining sector is key to Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround as it provides an avenue through which foreign direct investment can be channelled into the economy.

Mining giants such as Impala Platinum (Implats), Anglo-American Corporation and Metallon Gold have over the years taken up some of the opportunities obtaining in the sector and the results have not disappointed.

Zimbabwe has subsequently emerged as a global mining powerhouse.

It is against this background that we feel the amendments to the proposed Mines and Minerals Bill which, among other things, would see the Government acquiring 50 percent of all energy minerals, platinum and diamond operations while existing mines would have to cede 25 percent of their shares to the State, are moves that need wide consultation and careful handling.

Indeed, we support initiatives to empower Zimbabweans, particularly in strategic sectors such as mining, but we feel this should be done in a systematic manner that takes into account the importance of multi-national companies in terms of technology transfer and the injection of huge capital.

Mining is a capital intensive investment area which will always require offshore financing hence the need to ensure the development of a win-win situation for both locals and foreign mining companies.

Thus, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development needs to engage the existing miners and other stakeholders to ensure the proposed mining laws achieve the desired results.

Already, companies such as Implats and Anglo-American Corporation have expressed their dissent or in some instances ignorance of the new mining laws, emphasising the need for a roundtable before implementation.

This could give the Ministry an opportunity to fine-tune aspects of the new laws if need be.

Black economic empowerment is important for the development of mining and the economy at large but doing so at the expense of the sector’s growth would prove to be retrogressive at the end of the day. There is no need to rush the implementation when better results could be achieved through dialogue and mutual co-operation.

There is need for proper implementation and appraisals at all structural levels to ensure that any detrimental mistakes are avoided.

Furthermore the Government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, should actively pursue the resuscitation of closed mines under the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Most of these mines, which include Globe and Phoenix Gold Mine, Sanyati Copper Mine and Mhangura Smelter still hold huge mineral deposits awaiting exploitation. These have the potential to earn the country large sums of foreign currency while also feeding into the Government’s coffers.

Zimbabwe’s mining sector is valued at more than US$20 billion and this is no small change that needs to be preserved.

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