Africa Moyo, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mugabe says beneficiation and value addition, and a deliberate policy to curb rampant leakages of precious minerals especially gold, are central to realising more revenue from the mining sector.
The President said this while officially opening the Fifth Session of the Eighth Parliament in Harare on Tuesday.
Platinum miners — Unki and Zimplats — have set in motion plans to set up smelting plants. Unki, which is wholly owned by Anglo American Platinum, has already budgeted $62 million for the smelter.
President Mugabe said: “The sustained growth in mining sector’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, hinges on the full implementation of the beneficiation and the value addition programme.
“I, therefore, appeal for the expeditious finalisation of Parliament scrutiny of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill,” he said.
The new Mines and Minerals Amendment Act, once it has been passed into law, will among other issues create a favourable operating environment for small-scale miners who are currently bearing the brunt of a punitive colonial law that criminalises their activities.
Small-scale miners — popularly referred to as amakorokoza — are complaining of undue harassment by law enforcement agencies when they are found in possession of gold, even when they intend to sell it to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR). FPR is the gold buying unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is currently being reviewed by Parliament.
Amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05), which was enacted in 1963, have been in the pipeline since 2007, but have since been accelerated under the auspices of the ease of doing business. Government, through the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), is leading the reforms under the Rapid Results Initiative.
A Technical Working Group has since been created by Government to ensure that all amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act conform to the aspirations of the ease of doing business reforms.
President Mugabe also said Government is currently seized with efforts to plug leakages of key minerals mainly gold and diamonds, with amendments to the Gold Trade Act and the Precious Stones Act set to be tabled during the life of the Fifth Session of Parliament.
It is thought that if leakages of precious minerals are curbed, the country realises more revenue.
“. . . in order to curb mineral leakages and realise full value from the country’s rich mineral endowment, amendments to the Gold Trade Act and the Precious Stones Trade Act will be tabled for consideration during this Session,” said President Mugabe.
The local mining sector is currently a $2 billion industry, an indication of huge promise for further growth, particularly if challenges such as mineral leakages are plugged and value addition is implemented.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe president Mr Batirai Manhando, has projected that $2,14 billion could be achieved this year, as the mining sector girds its loins ahead of transforming the sector into a $3 billion industry.