Zimbabwe mulls 'use it or lose it' approach to mining rights
(Adds investor comment, detail)
By Tiisetso Motsoeneng
JOHANNESBURG, April 10 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe may withdraw
mining rights from companies that take too long to dig for
minerals, the deputy mines minister said on Wednesday, part of
efforts to lift output in a sector vital to the country's
Zimbabwe sits on the second-largest known platinum deposits
after neighbouring South Africa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa
is keen to revive mining after years of reticence by foreign
investors during the Robert Mugabe administration.
Speaking to investors and executives at a mining conference
in Johannesburg, Polite Kambamura said details of the so-called
"use it or lose it" approach to mining policy would be made
available in due course.
"We will be calling owners of such mineral resources to come
forward and show cause why they are not mining," he told Reuters
on the sidelines of the conference.
"If we're not satisfied with their explanation or mining
plans, then we will kindly ask them to give that resource back
to the government."
As part of plans to boost mining export revenues to $12
billion a year as of 2023 from $3 billion now, Kambamura also
said the country was putting policies in place to make it easier
for mining companies to boost production, while urging investors
to restart mines that closed in periods of political upheaval.
Last month, Zimbabwe said it would scrap the controversial
indigenisation law under which foreign companies are restricted
to only 49 percent of their Zimbabwean operations.
Zimbabwe, which counts South Africa's Impala Platinum
and Anglo American Platinum among its mining
investors, is also in talks with an industry body, the Chamber
of Mines, about reviewing and streamlining mining taxes.
"The ministry is looking at the whole array of taxes like
royalties etc to streamline them and establish a more
competitive regime," Betirai Manhando, president of the Chamber
of Mines, said at the same conference.
About a year ago, Mnangagwa won the first election since the
removal of Mugabe in 2017, and has laid out an economic
transformation strategy that his government hopes will turn the
country into a middle-income economy by 2030.
Though investors at the conference did not dispute the
prospect of lucrative returns from the country's underdeveloped
mining, tourism and agricultural industries, they were worried
about shortages of foreign currency.
"Currency convertibility is a big issue for investors," said
Richard Tait, a director at Harare-based private equity outfit
Mangwana Capital - which is trying to raise $150 million for
investments in Zimbabwe.
Mangwana's investments that mainly earn foreign currency
should deliver returns of more than 20 percent, Tait told
Zimbabwe ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its
dollar-surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars on Feb. 20,
merging them into a transitional currency called the RTGS
(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Dale Hudson and
First Published: 2019-04-10 11:26:25
Updated 2019-04-10 15:31:53
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