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Over 200 mines to be repossessed by August 2020

By Business Reporter – Tuesday 30 June 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – OVER 200 underutilised and unutilised mines face repossession as the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando gears to enforce the ‘use it or lose’ principle.

In 2019, government announced the enforcement of the “use it or lose it” principle to prevent speculative hoarding of claims across all minerals.

‘We have over 200 mines that will be repossessed by August this year,’ said Chitando.

However, four questions must be answered at this point.

  1. What happens to some of the mines that were put under management of state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and have for years not made meaningful contribution to Zimbabwe’s extractive sector?
  2. What happens to mines with pending litigation? Will the ministry speed up the judicial process pending repossession?
  3. Will mines on care and maintenance be reposed too?
  4. Has government, put in place a fund to capitalise mines that closed due to financial constraints?

It must be noted that a number of mines being operated by primary producers are either on care and maintenance, have closed, are facing financial viability or under subjudice.

In April last year, Metallon Corporation put three of its mines Shamva, Mazowe and Redwing under care and maintenance program owing to mounting debt.

RioZims Empress Nickel Refinery (ENR) has been on care and maintenance since 2013 while its chrome claims in Darwendale remain subjudice as the company continues to pursue finalisation of the matter by the courts.

With four lucrative mines, Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) is currently operating one mine. Shangani Mine at 65 000 tonnes is on care and maintenance.

Athens Mine, situated in Mvuma, formerly Falcon Mine owned by Lonrho Zimbabwe, was one of the notable gold, copper and silver producers in Zimbabwe which employed over a thousand workers at its peak. Despite having huge gold deposits, the mine closed in 1996 due to a mine shaft collapse and the low price of gold fetching at that time.

River Ranch, a kimberlite pipe mine is located 12.5 km north-west of Beitbridge discovered by De Beers in 1974 and later developed by Australians in 1992 when production commenced. It closed in 1998 due to slump in diamond prices. From 2006 to 2012, it went into liquidation, and it had been lying idle since then. The liquidation issue is pending at the courts.

Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM) operated two mines, Shabanie and Gaths Mine which closed in 2008 owing to a myriad of challenges. Once the world’s sixth largest asbestos producer with an annual output exceeding 140 000 tonnes, the SMM had access to markets in the United States, United Kingdom, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Mozambique, India, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, China and Indonesia. Following 12 years of no production, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura was in October 209 quoted saying the de-watering exercise at Mashaba had been completed with production expected to resume soon.

Mhangura Copper Mine closed in 2000 due to fall in copper prices. There has been various efforts to resuscitate the mine in the near future. Mhangura has lost 20 years of copper production.

Located approximately 100 kilometres south of Zvishavane town in the Mberengwa, Sandawana has been an important producer of emeralds for 40 years before suspending operations in 2011 due to loss of traditional markets. Nine years of emerald production have been lost since Sandawana’s closure.

Kamativi Tin Mines closed operations in 1994 after 58 years of operation. Closure of the mine was caused by the fall in the price of Tin in 1985. The mine produced tin and other by-products including tantalite niobium and lithium minerals. To date, Kamativi has lost 26 years of tin production.

Elvington Gold Mine suspended operations in 2003 due to the collapse of one of its main shafts. The mine was put on care and maintenance. Currently the mine is involved in dump retreatment while preparing for resuscitation of underground operations. Elvington used to produce 45kgs of gold per month before the shaft incident. 11 years of no production have been lost. ENDS//

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