Prosper Ndlovu, Business Editor
THE Government will not compensate foreign firms for mining claims repossessed towards empowering indigenous Zimbabweans, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, told delegates in Bulawayo during the launch of the $50 million fund to support industry and mines yesterday that mineral rights were vested in the State, which has the right to distribute wealth to its citizens.
The minister said there were lots of misconceptions that Government was seizing mining claims from foreign companies and that affected firms should be compensated.
The concerns come on the back of consolidation of the diamond mining sector and the surrender of chrome mining claims by Zimasco and Zim-Alloys.
“There is a misconception that concessions which belong to companies are being taken from them. The Mines and Minerals Act in its first clause starts by saying the mineral resources of Zimbabwe vest in the State. The second clause says what investors get is a limited right to exploit the minerals, which may or may not be withdrawn and so the circumstances around, which mineral rights can be withdrawn are more to do with national good,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
“Is it in the interest of Zimbabwe to have more people participate in the mining sector? The answer is yes and that is what we are going to do. I have made it crystal clear to the (mining) companies that we will not go back on that matter. The second thing is that we will not pay because there was an expectation, a wild expectation for payment. We will not pay for those claims.”
He said it was not in the national interest to have the country’s mineral resources to be owned by a few companies when a majority of citizens were not participating in the national economy. The minister said distribution of wealth to ordinary citizens was in line with the country’s indigenisation and economic empowerment thrust, which consolidates the gains of the liberation struggle.
“No Government across the world will pay for concessions, which they gave for free, You come to our offices and you receive concessions for free except paying for administration costs and then you do exploration works and then you come and say ‘I have discovered this much’ and want to be paid for it by the same government in whose names the mineral resources are vested, no”.
“So, let it be clear that we will not pay, not in diamonds, chrome or gold and not in any other mineral. I thought I should explain because there is that misconception.”
Minister Chidhakwa said the Government would not budge on the 49/51 percent shareholding requirements on the mining companies in line with the Indigenisation Act and challenged companies to comply.
He said those companies who resist the 51/49 percent shareholding structure only have option B of spending 75 percent of their earnings in the local economy.
“The clarification by His Excellency the President on the indigenisation programme says, for those companies, which have not yet met the indigenisation requirements, conformity with the indigenisation requirements shall be by spending 75 percent of their gross revenue here in Zimbabwe,” said Chidhakwa.
“Now if you take the cost of running Zimplats, Mimosa, Unki or Redwing, should they procure locally, …we sat with the Chamber of Mines and we will be discussion this in-depth at the chamber in May.”