THE government has dispatched an audit team to mining areas to determine whether players in the industry are abiding by all applicable laws, including those pertaining to labour, taxes, the environment, and immigration, Standardbusiness can reveal.
The audit is being done at a time when the country's rules are being broken in the mining industry.
Recently, the lithium mine Bikita Minerals, owned by China’s Sinomine Resource Group, was ordered to suspend operations until it complies with legal provisions that include labour, environmental and immigration laws.
Despite increases in production at the company, working conditions allegedly worsened because employees were mistreated, received low pay, were housed in unsanitary facilities, and were not registered with statutory organisations like the National Social Security Authority.
“The responsible mining team was launched by HE (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) on 11 May 2023 and was sent off as an audit team into the field,” Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Pfungwa Kunaka told Standardbusiness.
“The responsive audit team has been on the ground starting 11 May to check on compliance of the laws of the land.
“So, these are teams which are visiting mining establishments throughout the country to check on compliance with labour laws, with tax laws, environment, immigration and all those things.
“This will bring out information in terms of compliance of our miners whether small or big.
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“This exercise will bring out whether or not all our investors are complying and such things like in any other audits, get corrected if there is an area with challenges and corrective measures will be implemented.
“This is to ensure that processes are carried out in a sustainable way.,"
The move followed the launch of an ambitious plan to transform the mining sector into a US$12 billion export industry by the end of 2023.
The plan was launched in October 2019 declaring mining as a key pillar to sustainable economic growth.
An achievement of that target would represent a 275% jump from the US$3,2 billion realised through exporting mining commodities in 2018.
The blueprint targets a gold output of US$4 billion per year with platinum at US$3 billion.
Diamond mining and polishing was set at US$1 billion, equal to the combined target of chrome, nickel and steel.
Coal, hydrocarbons, lithium and other minerals were projected to contribute the remaining US$3 billion.
The mines ministry has been making efforts to amend the Mines and Minerals Act which have been roundly criticised for failing to incorporate community representation, which has led to unsustainable mining practices.
The archaic 1961 legislation is being revised because it has no provisions to handle disputes over mining title, corruption in the mining sector, environmental degradation, human rights violations and revenue leakages.