By Oliver Kazunga
THE GOVERNMENT has successfully repossessed over 80 mining concessions under the “use-it or lose-it” policy and a formal announcement will be made in due course, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, has revealed.
Last year, the Government announced that it was also looking forward to re-sizing some of the concessions with huge resource base and inordinate life spans and allocate them to potential investors.
In the past, it was noted that some prospective investors awarded the Special Grants (SG) in different mining sub-sectors of the economy were holding onto the claims for speculative purposes.
This was retrogressive as Zimbabwe was being deprived of its potential to exploit its vast mineral resource base.
Minister Chitando told our Bulawayo Bureau in a recent interview that the Government will soon issue a formal announcement regarding the repossessed idle assets.
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“The ‘use-it or lose-it’ policy has been implemented. We will have formal announcements in due course. But we have repossessed over 80 assets and we will do a formal update on that, and we will continue to do that (repossessing),” he said.
The repossessed assets were in sub-sectors that include gold, coal, and chrome, among others. It is believed that the repossessed mining concessions will be allocated to other companies willing to immediately work on them.
“We have always warned that the time was up for all those mining title holders who were holding onto the concessions for speculative tendencies at the expense of the country.
“Under the Zimbabwe is open for business mantra, those repossessed assets will be reallocated to potential investors who really want them for productive purpose in line with the National Development Strategy 1 Agenda,” said Minister Chitando.
Through the Mines and Minerals Act, the Government is empowered 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 has said the decision to resize some of the concessions held by investors who were already on the ground follows the realisation that some of the potential investors were failing to realise their full potential as well as beneficiate the mineral due to shortage of raw materials.
In 2019, President Mnangagwa launched a mining industry strategic roadmap to build a US$12 billion sector by 2023. Under the road map, coal, chrome, diamond, iron and steel are envisaged to contributed US$1 billion.
The projected increase represents a 344 percent jump from 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.
Already, the mining sector is critical in generating foreign currency, contributing about 70 percent of the country’s forex earnings.