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Chiadzwa: Door shut for miners

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Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu says there is no room for small-scale miners to operate in the diamond-rich Chiadzwa area.

Speaking during Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s tour of the area last week, Mpofu said allowing small-scale miners and co-operatives to operate in Chiadzwa would bring about confusion and cause the country to fail to meet standards set by the Kimberley Process (KP).

The KP is an International certification scheme set up to prevent trade in diamonds that fund conflict.

Small-scale miners have been lobbying for a stake in diamond mining as part of the government’s empowerment drive.

“The whole idea of bringing in small-scale miners and cooperatives is to bring about confusion,” said Mpofu.

“It’s easy to deal with big companies.”

Mpofu said his ministry had received more than 1 000 applications for diamond mining licences.

“Those that meet the criteria will be given licences.

“However, since the gazetting of new licence fees others have started withdrawing their applications.
“Some just wanted to take advantage.”

According to Statutory Instrument 11 of 2012, registration fees for diamond claims increased from $1 million to $5 million.

The diamond companies were also slapped with a new ground rental fee of $3 000 per hectare per year.

It emerged during the tour that at least 120 000 hectares have been secured for diamond mining, but only 33 000 hectares had been allotted to four companies operating in Chiadzwa.

“We are not exactly sure that there are diamonds.

“The whole area has been secured to protect it from invasion. We are putting a Bill through Cabinet for an exploration company,” Mpofu said.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai said there was need for transparency in the utilisation of diamond revenues.

“We will do our part to ensure that we are accountable. With the resources that we have, there is no reason why the economy should not take off,” he said.

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