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Miners meet ahead of key changes
08/05/2013 00:00:00
by Roman Moyo
 
Chamber of Mines meeting ... Winston Chitando
 
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THE Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines President Winston Chitando said the Annual General Meeting (AGM) scheduled for next week is expected to sow seeds of what needs to be done in the coming years to allow the sector to contribute further to economic development.

Mining is one of the sectors crediting with driving the country’s recovery from a decade-long recession but the Chamber’s AGM, to be held at the Nyanga resort, comes at a time the government is planning key changes in the sector.

Most of the key players in the sector have reached agreement with the State regarding compliance with the country’s indigenisation programme under which foreign firms must transfer control of at least 51 percent of their operations to locals.

But the government has also hinted it may approach the sector for cash to fund key general elections due this year while the Mines Ministry is also understood to be working on changes that could see the State taking over the marketing of minerals.

Speaking at the pre-conference and AGM briefing in Harare this week, Chitando said the objective of the annual meeting was to generate debate on the best practices in mineral resources management and develop a common understanding on what measures are necessary to position Zimbabwe to attract the much needed capital into the mining industry.

“We also intend to sow seeds of what needs to be done in the coming years to allow mining to contribute further to economic development. And to create the necessary platforms for greater cooperation between private and state institutions,” he said.

Overall, the mining sector was inadequately funded. It is estimated that over US$5-7 billion is needed over the next couple of year for the mining industry to operate at and increase capacity.

Chitando, who is also MD for Mimosa Platinum said that as Mimosa, indigenisation discussions were on-going.

The proposed legislation which gives farmers the right of first refusal in minerals discovered on farmland would be discussed.

Anxiety had gripped mining companies after government was said to be preparing legislation to give farmers the right of first refusal on minerals discovered on farmland.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert was quoted saying farmers would have the right of first refusal over minerals on their farms.



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The decision was said to be designed to both empower indigenous farmers and to prevent bitter clashes that have erupted between farmers and miners over minerals in or discovered on resettlement farms.

Such instances were most common in resettlement areas where companies and individuals already held mining titles for minerals in the areas.

Previously, miners had exclusive rights to peg or prospect for minerals once they obtained permission from Government, even without consulting the farmers, but the new legislation will require that the farmer be consulted and grant their consent first.

Mpofu said right of first refusal would be bestowed on farmers once amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act have been approved by Parliament. Cabinet has already approved the proposals.


 
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