THE Government will allow a grace period of one month for any objections to its plans to reclaim nearly 30 000 hectares of platinum-rich idle land held by mining giant, Zimplats.
Zimbabwe holds the second largest known platinum reserves in the world after South Africa and the expectation is that it will unlock $1,8 trillion from the idle mineral reserves. However, most of the ground remains largely unexploited.
This is despite the fact that mining is one of the major anchors of economic growth in the short to medium term and contributes roughly 16 percent of gross domestic product.
In a Government Gazette published on Friday last week, the Ministry of Mines said the objections should be lodged with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development within a period of 30 days.
Government will repossess excess land measuring 27 948 hectares from the platinum mining giant, in a move that free up the land for allocation to new investors in order for the country to realise optimal benefit from its vast platinum resource.
The repossession of the excess land is part of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development’s on-going plans to review all mining rights deemed to be excess and underutilised.
Former Mines and Mining Development Minister, Dr Obert Mpofu set the ball rolling in 2013, as part of Government’s efforts to stimulate growth in the mining industry to ensure the country obtained more value from its rich mineral endowment.
Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum miner was granted a special mining lease in 1994 covering 25 years, but geological information indicates that the time span for total ground granted and mineral reserve far exceeds the prescribed period.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, said in 2014 that his ministry was working on a legal framework to enable Government to repossess the claims.
He said Government “will not hesitate to withdraw licences from miners that are holding mining claims for speculative purposes”.
Out of the seven companies holding platinum claims, only three namely Zimplats, Anglo’s Unki and Mimosa, were fully using them, while the other four were holding on to them with development.
This was after Government had started the process to repossess nearly 30 000ha the Australia Stock Exchange listed platinum mining giant was holding on to, but was not exploiting.
Under the “use it or lose it”policy, Government last year announced plans to repossess 42 000 hectares from the country’s two largest ferrochrome producers namely Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company and Zimbabwe Alloys, with a view to opening up the sector up to other investors.