By Shame Makoshori
RIVAL investors were at the weekend planning to approach authorities to block the return of Bindura-based Ran Mines, saying a consortium led by mining executive Jack Murehwa, that is championing the project, could not operate the gold asset before government addressed a long-drawn ownership dispute.
Murehwa’s investment vehicles, G&P Industries and Ran Mines Private Limited, announced at the weekend that extensive groundwork had been covered and Ran Mines would return to production next month, 22 years after operations grounded to a halt.
Ran Mines drifted into the limelight in November last year after 30 artisanal miners were trapped in flooded shafts, exerting pressure on the 122-year-old operation’s aged underground support systems.
Decomposed bodies of miners shocked the nation as they emerged out from the shaft days later, with others making it alive.
Murehwa’s consortium is planning to sink US$6,5 million to bring the project back to life.
But in an interview with NewsDay Business yesterday, Angeline Munyeza, the director of Blackgate Investments Private Limited, said extraction of gold at the operation would be illegal as government was yet to make a determination on the ownership wrangle that erupted in 2009.
“We heard that they are opening, but any extraction of gold there will be illegal because Blackgate is the lawful owner of that mine,” Munyeza said, noting that the consortium was lining up meetings with authorities to find out if the Mines and Mining Development ministry had allowed the mine to restart.
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“We confidently believe that this cancer of corruption we are alleging is at an advanced stage within the Mines and Mining Development ministry and if its source is not guillotined it will substantially debilitate the endeavour of Zimbabwe having a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023, which the government is pursuing,” Munyeza said.
A mining commissioner had recommended the cancellation of claims held by G&P Industries and Ran Mines in 2009, according to documents.
NewsDay Business understands that the shock collapse rattled Ran Mines hours after the Mines ministry led rival investors to the mine as part of efforts to find a solution.
Documents lodged by Blackgate with the Mines ministry indicated that it identified the mine, which had been abandoned for a decade, before approaching authorities seeking permits to kick off operations.
“The abandoned claims were then legally and procedurally awarded to Blackgate,” Munyeza, in a letter addressed to the ministry, said.
“Pursuant to the registration of the claims in its name, Blackgate, with its partners, commenced the processes towards starting operations on the mine. Once it dawned on G&P Industries and Ran Mines that there were formal processes and set-ups at the site, they reported to the mining commissioner that Blackgate had overpegged their claims in November 2009.
“A dispute then arose which was referred to the mining commissioner who conducted an investigation. The final recommendations of the mining commissioner were that Blackgate be allowed to continue with its planned operations on Ran Mine,” Munyeza said, noting that this became the beginning of a protracted ownership wrangle that has continued until today.
Yesterday, Murehwa said his team was confident that it was doing the right thing.
“At the end of this month we are getting into production I am happy to discuss the progress that we have made, not destraction.
“There is no mine in Zimbabwe which has no dispute. We are confident that we are on the right track,” he said.
The has capacity to employ 250 workers.