BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
GOVERNMENT has reclaimed more than 500 mining claims in Matabeleland South province following failure by owners to pay inspection fees, with Blanket Mine being the most affected, losing about 53 claims.
According to a document gleaned by NewsDay Business yesterday, Blanket Mine lost about 53 claims, DGL Number One Investment (36), River Ranch Mine (35), G&W Minerals (23), Lonite Investments (17), Tanna Hill Mine (22), Quali Exploration and Mining (22), Zimbabwe Alloys (13) and Carry Mine (7), among others.
Small-scale miners also lost their claims.
“The following mining locations have on this day, the 30th of January 2020, been forfeited in terms of sections 260 and 271 of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05) and shall subject to the provisions of section 272 of the said Act, be open for reallocation on Friday the 6th of March 2020 unless revoked on or before Thursday the 20th of February 2020,” the document from the Mines and Mining Development ministry read.
Mthandazo Women Miners Association chairperson Sithembile Ndlovu said they were worried about the way government was repossessing their claims.
“It’s worrying because we have widows who also lost their claims and we wonder how they are going to survive. This is so painful. Our efforts to engage relevant authorities are proving to be fruitless. What is more worrying is the fact that those claims are being forfeited without prior notice to the concerned parties,” she said.
Claim holders are required to pay an inspection fee of $100 for six months upon starting operations, thereafter they are supposed to start paying the same amount annually per mining claim.
Government says the confiscation of the claims is part of its “use it or lose it” policy aimed at enhancing mineral production.
Affected miner Morgan Moyo said they would be engaging the Mines ministry over the matter.
“We will be engaging the ministry because we feel there are administrative issues that have not been done properly. The forfeiture was not effected according to the Mines and Minerals Act. We will shed more light after our meeting with the principals,” he said.
Miners said they were used to operating without paying inspection fees for three years and the decision to reclaim the claims for non-payment of fees over a period caught them unaware.
Efforts to get a comment from Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando and his deputy Polite Kambamura were fruitless.
Permanent secretary Onesimo Moyo promised to call back when reached for comment, but he had not done so by the time of going to print last night.