Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Government has set in motion a process that will see mining title holders who have been holding onto minerals infested claims without developing them, losing the properties as efforts to ramp up production heat up.
This comes as Government is working towards growing annual exports from the mining sector from US$2,7 attained in 2017 to US$12 billion by 2023.
To achieve this, all the country’s pegged mineral title will have to be put into production but this could be scuttled by some title holders who are holding onto titles for speculative reasons.
In January last year, Government wrote to the Chamber of Mines — private sector’s largest representative body — signalling its intentions to repossess undeveloped mining titles and inviting the chamber’s input on the same.
At this week’s Tuesday Cabinet meeting, Government resolved to repossess and reallocate vast swathes of chrome rich claims amounting to 11 747 hectares, which were initially ceded to former tributary miners by Gweru based smelter — Zimalloys.
Addressing members of the press at post cabinet media briefing recently, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, said the move signalled the beginning of the “use it or lose it” principle that will befell speculative mining title holders.
He said in due course, Government will begin to target large concessions for possible repossession.
“You made reference to a platinum concession, which you indicate that it has not been functioning, all concessions which are not being worked on, are slowly being subjected to the ‘use it or lose it’ concept,” Minister Chitando told the media.
“So whoever has got a concession which is not being worked on will certainly lose that concession. In terms of priority, we will also be targeting the bigger concessions, so it’s a process that is underway to ensure that all the mining concessions are fully utilised to the development of the industry,” he said.
In an earlier interview with our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, the Minister said Government was aware of entities which hold vast pieces of mining concessions that are not being utilised.
He said in one province there was an entity which has been holding a rich mining concession since the 1970s and all they do is, every year, pay renewal fees for that concession, a practice which is at odds with Government’s development thrust.
Government is also monitoring a “very prospective gold concession” that has been lying idle but with fees being paid timeously and upon inquiries, its owners began production averaging 250 grammes per month against Government expectations of up to 30kgs per month.
The “use it or lose it” principle will take into considerations projects with a longer gestation period like base metals.
There will also be exemptions for entities who are undertaking exploration, development and test work.