Rival demands Ran Mine closure

According to Blackgate, the claims were allegedly awarded irregularly to Ran Mine and G&P by the Ministry of Mines during arbitration. It wants them back claiming it holds genuine titles.

BLACKGATE Investments, the resources junior that is battling to repossess gold claims within an area being exploited by Bindura-based Ran Mine, has demanded the closure of the asset until a legal dispute over the business is finalised in the High Court, the Zimbabwe Independent can report.

Blackgate has been locked up in a fierce legal dispute with the Jack Murehwa-led Ran Mine and G&P Industries over gold claims 18 and 19, which both parties lay claim on.

According to Blackgate, the claims were allegedly awarded irregularly to Ran Mine and G&P by the Ministry of Mines during arbitration. It wants them back claiming it holds genuine titles.

In January, a local newspaper reported that Ran Mine and G&P had secured an investor, who will inject US$12 million for expansion.

But Blackgate’s demands, made through Zhemu Soda, Mines and Mining Development minister, stated that Ran Mine should not have signed the transaction until High Court cases HCH7617/23 and HCH7647/23 were finalised.

“Firstly, the realisation of this (newspaper) article left me totally flabbergasted and the details that have been unraveled in it are a depiction of the blatant criminality that has been left unchecked at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development for a protracted period of time as the mining claims in question are still in dispute and currently before the courts of law,” Angie Munyeza, the director at Blackgate, said.

“It blows my mind that it is said that Ran Mine has recorded US$12 million in annual turnover yet they do not have any permission to be mining according to the Mines and Minerals Act.

“It leads us to pose a question to your ministry that, who has allowed them to start operations and to which institution are they purportedly selling this gold?

“The records state that they do not have any paperwork to carry out any operations. (That is) why the mining claims are in dispute. We are no longer ‘kindly’ asking you, but in fact we are now ‘imploring’ you to stop all mining operations at Ran Mine in Bindura until the High Court cases HCH7617/23 and HCH7647/23 are finalised,” Munyeza said in the letter, which was copied to several government officials. These include President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga, Chief Justice Luke Malaba, Prosecutor-General Loice Matanda Moyo and Vice-Presidents Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi.

Murehwa declined to respond to the Independent’s questions, saying the stories carried by this publication before were littered with “twisted facts”.

When contacted for comment, Soda said the matter was before the courts.

“I am not commenting because the matter is before the courts. They have taken their case to the court and at the same time they are writing to the ministry seeking for the same matter to be handled by both. That is not the way to go. So, we are waiting until the court has dealt with the matter and that’s when we will be able to comment on it,” he said.

The Independent started reporting on the dispute in 2022, when the names of Zimbabwe’s late former president Robert Mugabe and his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa were dragged into the dispute.

Fighting reached tipping point at the time after Ran Mine and G&P said they were pressing ahead to extract their first bullion at the mine in 22 years.

The mine had been closed.

But Blackgate warned at the time that sinking shafts at the operation would be illegal until government made a determination over ownership.

In a 76-page letter submitted to Mnangagwa in December 2021, Blackgate claimed that Ran Mine and G&P had warned them to tread carefully as the asset belonged to the feared late statesman, Mugabe, and his family.

The letter claimed that after Mugabe’s ouster in 2017, Ran Mine and G&P somersaulted and claimed that Mnangagwa had allegedly taken over the asset, which collapsed in 1999 before attracting armies of artisanal miners.

Murehwa asked the Independent at the time not to “escalate the issue in the press”, but added that he was too “professional” to thrive on name-dropping.

“Surely, we are a lot more professional than that,” Murehwa said at the time. “When we talk business, we talk professional things. What you are saying is for you and your sources. But my plea to you is that don’t escalate this in the press.

“It does not give anyone any favour. It does not do any help to business. We are busy preparing the plant and we want to open.”

Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba warned at the time that investors must not use the President’s name for financial gain.

Ran Mine and G&P had indicated that it had a US$6,5 million war chest to rebuild the mine, but made headlines in November 2020 after its shafts collapsed under heavy flooding as torrential rains swept through Zimbabwe.

In her letter to Mnangagwa, Munyeza said Zimbabwe lost about US$500 million in potential gold exports during the prolonged dispute. She said Blackgate identified the mine after previous owners left, but ran into problems after being swamped with complaints that it had protruded into Ran Mine and G&P’s claims.

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