India seeks mining changes clarification

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INDIAN officials have said they would seek greater clarity on reported changes in the Zimbabwean national mineral policy before kick-starting initiatives discussed during the visit of a high-level Indian delegation to the country last month.
The Zimbabwean government was recently reported to be working on a draft national mineral policy which proposed auctioning off mineral assets and making it mandatory for mine output to be sold through government-owned entities.
One of the basic premises of the India-Zimbabwe talks had been that mining-and mineral-sector collaborations between the two countries would be taken forward on a government-to-government basis, including granting of mining licences.
However, if auctioning of resource allocation to investors and mandatory sales through government companies were chosen as the preferred route, this would change, the official said.
Still, he was quick to add that there had not been any official communication between the two countries on the alleged changes to the national mineral policy and, hence, any follow-up of initiatives proposed last month would have to wait for the official policy to be announced.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NMDC Limited, India’s largest iron-ore miner and a Zimbabwean government company mooted at the meetings held last month, would be subject to the provision that the new policy clarified ownership issues, the allocation of mining rights through auction or government dispensation, and marketing rights.
Last month, India’s Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma headed a delegation comprising steel secretary DRS Chowdhuryand chairpersons of Indian government-owned minerals and metal majors, which laid the ground for bilateral collaborations in iron-ore, coal, gold and chrome ore.
The Indian Steel minister was reported to have told his counterpart that “Zimbabwe has large reserves of low-grade iron-ore” and that “the Indian steel industry could be a partner in developing and gainfully using these resources”.
However there have been reports Zimbabwe was considering treating iron-ore as strategic, restricting production levels and regulating prices.
The contours of such a policy, as was being reported now, would have to evolve and be conclusively conveyed through government-to-government channels before companies like NMDC ink agreements for projects there, the official said.Advertisement