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Government must finalise all mining policies and systems

By Features Reporter – Monday 28 September 2020

ANALYSIS – HARARE (Mining Index) – HOW is the Zimbabwean mining sector operating with the absence of, and or with out-dated systems and policies?

Below are some of the policies and systems the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development needs to urgently look into for efficiency and transparency in the sector.

Minerals Exploration Bill

First mooted, and proposed to be tabled before parliament in June 2015, the Minerals Exploration Bill is vital in assessing Zimbabwe’s mineral worth.

Zimbabwe’s mining sector is operating without thorough geological information to determine the quantity and quality of its mineral resources.

The bill seeks to promote comprehensive resource evaluation, remove issues of resource estimation and ultimately resource extraction for beneficiation and profitability.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) sponsored the aeromagnetic data on Zimbabwe in the 1990s, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel as most of the data is available. There is need for government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, to work together in adopting such data for the benefit of the mining sector.

Mines and Minerals Amendment bill

This principal Act governing Zimbabwe’s mining sector was first crafted in 1961 and amendments to the law were last effected in 1996.

The new policy is expected to address, among other things, participation of foreigners in small scale mining.

Last year, Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda noted some key points below as reasons for the delays in signing the bill;

It was noted the original bill had no clear definition of artisanal and small-scale miners, only defining them as “a holder of a mining location who is not a large-scale miner,”

The list on strategic minerals in Section 5 was not exhaustive as it left out gold and diamonds,

Unclear farmer-miner relationship, in which there is need to balance the interests of both groups noting that mining operations should not reverse the gains of the Zimbabwe land reform programme,

Some provisions of the original Bill had the potential to impinge on property rights, while

There was lack of clear timeframes for mining dispute resolution.

Gold Trade Act

The Gold Trade Act is in need of review as it still relates to the Rhodesian time, with numerous clauses that have become out-dated due to changing times. For instance, those found in possession of gold are liable to arrest.

Precious Stones Trade Act

The amended Act was expected to be submitted to parliament end of October last year.

Chrome Development Policy

Is expected to steer development and attract additional investment in the chrome industry, address chrome pricing discrepancies, labour, sourcing, setting aside and protection of chrome reserves for future generations; protect indigenous chrome miners, adoption of a ‘no to open cast mining’ policy for big companies, among other issues.

Mining Cadastre Information System

A mining cadastre is the cornerstone of a secure mineral rights system and records the geographical location, ownership and time validity of mining rights. It also facilitates compliance with the payment of fees and/or other requirements to ensure the validity of a concession.

Miners have lamented over old mining geological maps at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development provincial offices that have faded over time.

Miners are not enthused with delays in implementation of the automation of the Mining Cadastre Information System, over a year after Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube allocated US$1.7 million towards operationalization of the project.

Zimbabwe’s membership in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) outstanding

Discussions to make Zimbabwe a member of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) have been on-going for years government needs to finalise on this.

In in the 2020 budget, Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube said ‘discussions are underway with various stakeholders on joining EITI, which will be pursued in 2020.’

EITI was founded in 2003 to promote good governance, open and accountable management of oil, gas, metals and mineral resources, guided by the belief that a country’s natural resources belong to its citizens.

In October last year, Institute for Sustainability Africa (INSAF) in partnership with OXFAM launched a publication on EITI which featured a roadmap to implementing EITI in Zimbabwe including challenges and recommendations. ENDS//

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