Zimbabwe is set to hold a third mining indaba this month amid heightened tensions over threats to withdraw operating licences for several foreign-owned mines under the indigenisation and empowerment drive.
Zimbabwe Mining Indaba is set for September 14-16 in Harare and was first held in 2009 a few months after the formation of the inclusive government.
Anxiety scaled up mid-August after the government temporarily cancelled the operating licence of one of the country’s most successful gold mine, Blanket Mine, which is wholly owned by Canada’s Caledonia Mining.
Last week, the Indigenisation ministry and Caledonia Mining issued a joint statement they had “agreed on a process that will result in the production of a revised indigenisation implementation plan for Blanket Mine that is compliant with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act”.
According to the organisers, Utho Group, the indaba would provide a platform for open dialogue with decision-makers in the country and also accord an opportunity for project owners to showcase their projects and ensure that their projects are on the radar of global investors
“With amendments to the Mining and Minerals Act about to be legislated, the indigenisation regulations for the mining sector have been released, a sovereign wealth fund is about to be established and beneficiation policy is being drafted.
“These highlights are but a few issues that make the Zimbabwe Mining Indaba an invaluable forum for the global metals and mining and exploration industry to interact and cultivate long-term partnerships with Zimbabwe’s mining stakeholders and investors,” a statement posted on the organisers’ website reads in part.
Highlights of the indaba include a presentation on the impact of indigenisation laws on the sector, beneficiation strategy, Mining and Minerals Act, technology and innovation, environmental issues, infrastructure development, role of financial institutions and the current investments into, review on progress in the last 12 months in the mining sector and the type of investor the government is looking to attract. Mines minister Obert Mpofu and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Finance minister Tendai Biti and Economic Planning and Investment minister Tapiwa Mashakada are billed to address the conference.
Several international mining executives expected include Gerard McCloskey, — chairman, Merlin Trade & Consultancy Ltd, Ian Kramer — director of Energy and Natural Resources, KPMG and Chamber of Mines South Africa CEO Bheki Sibiya.
The government estimates the mining sector requires $6 billion over the next five years, but has struggled to attract investors, who are put off by the uncertain investment climate and unclear legislation.
Kasukuwere recently reported that the government rejected all 175 local ownership proposals it received from foreign mining companies and will kick out any firms that do not meet the September deadline for majority black ownership.
Under the controversial law, foreign miners operating in Zimbabwe must sell a majority stake to local black investors or face losing their assets.
Statistics indicate that Zimbabwe’s mining industry has become the country’s main economic driver, with sector registering a 44% growth last year.