BY SHAME MAKOSHORI, in Victoria Falls
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday threatened to unleash “draconian” laws on miners in order to bring sanity to the sector following a string of environmentally disastrous missteps.
He also reiterated government’s position to have a local platinum refinery, saying days of exporting products in their raw form were gone.
His push came less than a month after government was forced to pivot on a plan to push through a 15% beneficiation tax to force the industry to build a refinery.
“We have been engaging platinum miners. They must ensure that they set up a precious minerals’ refinery in the shortest possible time. Mining houses must ensure that they practice responsible mining,” Mnangagwa said as he officially opened this year’s Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual mining conference.
“I see that many people have dug up holes and they have gone. It was not God (who set up the holes). It must be you. You should not invite me to introduce draconian laws. I know that your mission is to make money, but as you make money, make all those people around you happy.”
On Thursday, Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando said his ministry would soon launch a blitz against companies flouting mining laws and policies.
Chitando said his ministry was moving to aggressively enforce a “Responsible Mining Initiative” announced last year to stem tax evasion and smuggling in the country.
“It (enforcing the initiative) is an issue we are coming heavy on in the next few weeks. We will be coming up with a programme to ensure that all mining entities comply with the laws of the country,” the minister said.
“Mining companies must pay tax. They must respect the country’s laws and they must protect the environment. People are getting licences for claims and going on to mine before getting the EMA [Environmental Management Agency) go-ahead.”
Chinese miners have been blamed for decimating the environment, digging up ancestral graves and forcing people out of their homes to make way for mining.
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