Minerals audit mooted

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The government says it is considering carrying out a minerals audit to ensure the country gets a full appreciation of its natural resources and derive maximum benefit.

In his 2012 Budget Strategy Paper (BSP), Finance minister Tendai Biti said the country was endowed with mineral resources.

He said expectations were the mining sector should contribute meaningfully to the fiscus, thereby availing resources to fund critical developmental and social service delivery expenditures.

“Furthermore, the finite nature of extractive resources, necessitates that communities also benefit from the exploitation of such resources,” said Biti.

“The contribution of the mining sector to the fiscus remains subdued in spite of the firming of mineral prices.

“To maximise the contribution of the mining sector to the fiscus, the BSP proposes the undertaking of a study on the inventory of minerals in the country with a view to assess the potential throughput and value.”

He said this would assist in the evaluation of revenue contribution to the fiscus, thereby improving issues of transparency and accountability in the mining sector.

The minister said the country has predominantly exported unprocessed primary products over the years, despite benefits that could be derived from increased export earnings and employment as a result of value addition.

“The low level of value addition activities, particularly on the mining and agriculture products, has resulted in the country being unable to realise meaningful benefits from its endowments hence compromising employment creation, foreign exchange earnings and economic growth, among others,” said Biti.

“It will, therefore, be necessary to institute further measures to discourage exportation of raw products have potential for beneficiation and value addition in the country.

He said lessons on treatment of raw chrome exports would be useful as indications were a tonne of raw chrome is sold for under $200 yet it could fetch $1 200 per tonne after beneficiation.

He said there was therefore need to submit proposals on measures that promote value addition on cotton, diamonds and chrome, among others, for consideration during Budget formulation.