Patrick Chitumba Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has repossessed 32 mining concessions at were lying idle across the country as it moves to implement the “use it or lose it” policy.
The 32 concessions are part of the 213 mining concessions earmarked for repossession in the first phase. Further, the Government has also reclaimed 21 000 hectares of mining land following failure by owners to pay inspection fees.
Many influential businesspeople have been holding on to vast swathes of gold rich fields for speculative purposes, depriving those with capacity to mobilise capital to possess the resource.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, said 32 mining concessions have now been repossessed since the exercise started.
He told our Bulawayo Bureau that the Government was serious about taking back mining concessions that are not being used for productive reasons.
“At the moment, on the use it or lose it policy, we have 32 out of the 213 concessions that have been processed and by end of the month, those who were holding on to them would have lost them,” he said in an interview.
“There are 213 concessions earmarked for repossession under the first phase.”
Minister Chitando said the mining concessions will be allocated to other companies willing to immediately work on them.
The Mines and Minerals Act empowers the Government to repossess unused mining concessions to prevent speculative holding of valuable assets.
The regulation seeks to promote investment, job creation and ensuring broader access to mining assets by allowing those ready to mine to file claims and obtain concessions. Under this exercise, small claims are consolidated to make viable mining concessions that are then allocated to genuine investors willing to start mining operations.
The Government is working towards transforming the mining sector into a US$12 billion industry by 2023 as part of its contribution towards the achievement of middle income status.
The mining sector is a critical foreign currency earner as it contributes about 70 percent of the country’s forex earnings whose projected growth by 2023 represents a huge jump from the US$2,7 billion achieved in 2017.
By 2030 the Government expects that the mining industry alone would be generating more than US$20 billion.
However, failing to exploit the mineral rich concessions has been viewed as one of the impediments towards achieving the national goals.
The Government has identified mining and agriculture as key economic sectors likely to spearhead quick economic turnaround for the country and no stone will be left unturned to ensure they play their role.