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Govt bans mine pegging in reserved areas

by Staff reporter
21 Dec 2020 at 06:25hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has banned the issuance of special mining grants in reserved areas, effectively shutting the door on prospecting in contentious areas.

The announcement was made last week in an internal circular to provincial offices by the Mines ministry secretary Onesimo Moyo. He said the reserved areas are part of exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs) which are known to be mineral rich.

Moyo advised all provincial offices to stop processing any special grants applications in reserved areas.

"Cabinet at its forty-fourth meeting of December 8 2020, directed that with immediate effect, the issuance of special grants in reserved areas owned by government and the Mining Promotion Corporation be stopped until exploration and evaluation of targeted areas is completed.

"In view of this development, you are hereby instructed to stop accepting Special grant applications . . . until further notice," Moyo wrote.

The move was received with mixed feelings by mining stakeholders with some welcoming it, while others felt they have been elbowed out from mining in mineral-rich areas.

An engineer, Chris Chirove said: "It is a good move as these are national assets that need to be preserved for future generations. The bulk of Zimbabwe's mineral wealth lies in these reserved areas, especially the national parks' estates which include safari areas. Hopefully, government will now come up with a policy to set up a Sovereign Wealth Fund that will be based on these mineral assets, instead of dishing them out to foreign investors in the form of these special grants."

Centre for Natural Resources Governance director Farai Maguwu said government has misplaced priorities.

"We must ensure every gram of gold and carat of diamond is accounted for. Anyone who is involved in corruption regarding our minerals or colludes with foreigners to smuggle must face a lengthy prison sentence.

"Mining is also at war with the environment and poor Zimbabweans living in rural areas who stand to be evicted without compensation. We must be reminded that mining is not the only economic activity possible in Zimbabwe."

Maguwu said there was need for a balanced approach to ensure that there is accountability and to end corruption in the minerals sector for the benefit of future generations.

"We must slow down on mining which is increasingly making Zimbabwe ungovernable and a scene of large scale transnational organised crime. Zimbabwe is already producing minerals worth more than $12 billion annually, but some of it is unaccounted for.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance minister Mthuli Ncube have acknowledged the massive smuggling of Zimbabwe's minerals to South Africa and the United Arab Emirates.

Maguwu said there was need for more investments in mining and to tighten regulations to prevent resource plunder, which include revisiting mineral taxation laws.

Source - newsday