The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has started implementing the “use it or lose it” policy, which will see thousands of individuals or companies having their mining rights taken away for holding onto them for speculative purposes.
In an interview with Sunday News Business, after the Zimbabwe School of Mines 25th graduation and prize awards ceremony in Bulawayo last Friday Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Mr Onesimo Mazai Moyo said the Government started the process of implementing the use it or lose it policy in August through writing letters to individuals or companies to ascertain the status of their non-productive claims.
“Government is implementing the use it or lose it policy. We started in earnest from the beginning of August to write letters to those affected miners, requiring them advise the Ministry of their plans and when they actually intend to start mining. So, the process is that we write to the affected person or company requesting them to show cause why Government should not withdraw that mining title and that actually kick starts an engagement process, which will culminate in a final decision being made after review of submissions from those affected individuals or companies,” he said.
Mr Moyo said the use it or lose it policy would be further extended to individuals or companies that have been granted Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs). An EPO gives mining companies express rights to search for minerals and peg claims.
The applications under active consideration involve minerals such as uranium, diamonds, lithium and gold in eight provinces across the country.
“For one to get an EPO, it comes with reporting obligations, requirements — you must produce a forward plan and if you then don’t meet the targets that you would have advised the Government and the targets that would have been approved by Government again one may face the same fate (of having their rights taken) but like I said, we start off by writing a show cause letter, which is actually an invitation to the person to engage Government and advise us of their plans,” said Mr Moyo.
Experts say the use it or lose it mining policy was long overdue as the mining sector is one of the economic pillars and a key foreign currency earner. Mining generates more than half of Zimbabwe’s export receipts and in 2018 it earned US$2,8 billion and with improved utilisation of idle mineral deposits in the hands of foreign investors the sector has the potential to earn more with increased investment.
Mr Moyo also said Government was actively watching activities at gold milling centres amid revelations that most of them might be under-declaring their production, prejudicing the country millions of dollars in the process.
“We have got various structures of Government that address under declaration, we do have a wing of the Zimbabwe Republic Police called Minerals, Flora, Fauna and Border Control Unit that specifically investigates practices in the gold sector and of course those found wanting will obviously be prosecuted in-line with the laws of the country. We also have a Gold Mobilisation taskforce which visits these various mines once every quarter and they bring back reports from which decisions are made on how to continuously improve or minimise leakages in the gold sector,” he said.