BY SHAME MAKOSHORI, in Victoria Falls
Government will in the next few weeks crack the whip on tax evading mines, as it moves to enforce a “Responsible Mining Initiative” strategy which came into force last year, according to Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando.
Through the plan announced during the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual mining conference Thursday, the State is to scale up the deployment of enforcement agencies at smuggling flash points in fresh raids meant to combat mineral leakages costing Zimbabwe’s cash strapped government billions of United States dollars yearly.
Firms violating enviromental protection laws would also be netted in the blitz, said Chitando, who is determined to achieve his US$12 billion mining economy by next year.
The mining industry generated about US$2 billion when the plan was unveiled in 2019.
“In 2021, government came up with the responsible mining initiative which we will be enforcing in the next few weeks,” Chitando said in a key note address.
“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 Act) go ahead,” Chitando said, noting government would be tightening the screws on borders to stem rampant minerals smuggling.
“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, as he shot down suggestions that his US$12 billion mining vision was under threat.
Under the strategy, government set out to drive mining revenue up to US$12 billion by next year, from about US$2 billion when the announcement was made in 2019.
Miners raised output to about US$5 billion last year, falling US$7 billion short of the target, after pandemic curbs affected a sea of industries that feed into the sector.
But Chitando said he was confident miners were on target to achieve the targets, even as gold miners cut production targets to US$3,5 billion in five years, from the US$4 billion originally planned for 2023.
“When we look at our US$12 billion target, the target for gold was US$4 billion. We are on case to achieve the US$12 billion projection, some minerals will achieve the projected target, while some not, but the US$12 billion will be on cause to be achieved,” Chintando said.
Presenting during a special symposium on gold mining during the conference, Qhubeka Nkoma, president of the Gold Miners Association, said output from the southern African country’s mines will rise to 60 tonnes in the next five years, generating US$3,5 billion at current prices.