Govt reads riot act to speculators

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Business Writer
Speculators holding vast mining claims risk losing them as Government intends to re-allocate them to serious investors, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said.

Government has resolved to repossess all unutilised claims starting January next year as part of a broader agenda to enhance mining production.

The speculators, alleged to have with influential positions in the Government have been long accused of holding onto mining claims.

The obtaining situation has resulted in the mining sector failing to realise its full potential.

The mining sector accounts for between 12 and 16 percent of the Gross Domestic Product an 65 percent of the country’s export earnings.

No going back on use

or lose it policy

In an interview with our Bulawayo Bureau on the sidelines of the Mine Entra conference recently, Chitando said the investors and holders of mining titles especially the precious metals risked losing them starting January next year.

“The use it or lose it principle has always been there in the Mines and Minerals Act especially relating to special metals. It’s very clear that special metals can only be protected  . . .  if you are spending capital expenditure (on them) or if you are working on it. This provision (use it or lose it) has always been there so it’s a question of us enforcing it and we have said from January next year it will be reinforced vigorously,” he said.

Precious metals in Zimbabwe

The country’s precious metals include platinum, gold and silver.

Minister Chitando said the holders of mining titles had to spend capital on them or indicate to be working on them in order to obtain renewal of   title.

“You have to be spending capital or producing before you can renew any special metal claim. It’s within the law, the original Bill not even the new amendment. It has never been implemented but from January 2019 it will be implemented vigorously. So if you have a special metals claim and you are not working on it from January, too bad, you lose it,” he said.

Government walking the talk

Early last year the Government forfeited more than 1 000 unutilised gold mining claims with owners holding onto them for speculative purposes.

Responding to a question from a delegate during a Mine Entra round table session Chitando said the Government was likely to increase the issuance of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) next year as part of its efforts to ramp up mineral production.

“Since around 2007-2008 the Government has not been processing the issuance of new EPOs. At the start of the new (Government) dispensation there were only three EPOs, which were in place . . . right now as we talk there are over 20 EPOs which have been approved or are at a stage of approval. I think conservatively we should have by early next year over 30-40 EPOs, which will be approved.

He said EPOs were important for the country to quantify its mineral resources as well as planning for future mining activities.

In 2012, Government withdrew nearly 100 EPOs amid concerns that investors were holding the mining rights for speculative   purposes.

An EPO confers the exclusive right to prospect for specified minerals in any defined area in Zimbabwe.

The EPO is obtained through an application made to the Mining Affairs Board.

The maximum possible period of holding onto an EPO, according to mining laws is six years, initially for three years and possible extension for a maximum three years. Licence holders are obliged to submit work programmes to be carried out in the next six to 12 months and work done in the past six to 12 months, from time to time.

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