BY Kuda Chideme
Mines minster Winston Chitando has urged holders of mining claims to use or risk forfeiting them to the State.
Chitando, who was speaking at the official opening of Unki Mine’s $62 million smelter, said government had issued several platinum claims, but mining houses were taking too long to dig for minerals.
“We will be pushing for clear development plans in order to extract and add value. We would like to see what we are seeing here for every platinum concession and where there is no clear path for that the ‘use it or lose it policy’ will apply,” Chitando said at a ceremony attended by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other government officials.
Zimbabwe is home to the world’s second largest deposits of platinum, but the country’s output remains depressed as companies find it difficult to set up and start to operating because of a highly-volatile policy environment.
The Anglo-American-owned Unki is one of three platinum miners already operating in the southern African nation.
The miners successfully negotiated with government to defer a punitive tax on unbeneficiated exports of platinum.
Unki Mine chairman James Maposa said the smelter was a strategic investment for the company and would significantly increase processing capacity.
“Unki has heeded the government’s beneficiation call, a key pillar for Zimbabwe’s goal to create value, employment and accelerate industrial development from its mineral resources.
Anglo-American Platinum acknowledges that we have a responsibility to contribute to the country’s economic and social development and to ensure that our contribution here addresses key national priorities,” he said.
Last year, the country scrapped local ownership laws which limited foreign shareholding in platinum and diamond ventures to 49% as part of mining sector reforms to help inject much-needed foreign capital. In April, government hinted that two new investors would develop separate platinum mining projects in the mineral-rich Mhondoro-Ngezi area, in addition to Cypriot investor Karo Resources which is already working on a $4,2 billion mining project in the same area.
Government is also set to overhaul the mining legislative framework as the southern African nation tries to streamline taxes for the extractive sector.
Mining generates more than half of Zimbabwe’s export receipts. Last year, it earned US$2,8 billion, but industry executives say it had the potential to earn more with increased investment.
This year, the country is targeting to generate upwards of $4,2 billion from mineral revenues.