BY SHAME MAKOSHORI, in Victoria Falls
Government has threatened to descend heavily mining companies evading on paying tax as it moves to enforce the “Responsible Mining Initiative” which came into force last year, Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando.
Speaking at the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual conference in Victoria Falls on Thursday, Chitando said the government will deploy law enforcement agents at smuggling flashpoints to plug leakages.
Firms violating environmental protection laws would also be netted, said Chitando, who is determined to achieve a US$12 billion mining economy target by next year.
“In 2021, government came up with the Responsible Mining Initiative which we will be enforcing in the next few weeks,” Chitando said in his key note address.
“Mining companies must pay tax. They must respect the country’s laws and must protect the environment. People are getting licences for claims and are embarking on mining activities before getting the EMA (Environmental Management Act) go ahead,” Chitando.
The minister said government will be tightening screws on borders to stem rampant mineral smuggling.
“It (enforcing the initiative) is an issue we are serious about. 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 the US$12 billion mining vision was under threat.
Under the strategy, government set out to drive mining revenue to US$12 billion by next year, from around US$2 billion when it was announced in 2019.
Miners raised output to about US$5 billion last year, falling US$7 billion short of the target, owing to COVID-19 pandemic disruptions.
Chitando said he was confident that Zimbabwe was on course to achieve the target, even as gold miners cut production targets to US$3,5 billion in five years, from the US$4 billion originally earmarked for 2023.
“When we look at our US$12 billion target, the target for gold was US$4 billion. We are on course to achieve the US$12 billion projection, some minerals will achieve the projected target, while some may not, but the US$12 billion will be on course to be achieved,” Chitando added.
Presenting during a special symposium on gold mining on the sidelines of the conference, Gold Miners Association president Qhubeka Nkoma 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.
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