The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo recently in Lupane
KUSILE Rural District Council (KRDC) in Lupane is calling on the Government to revoke mining licences of three prospective investors for taking long to kick-start their energy resources projects.
KRDC chairperson Councillor Fibion Ngwenya told Sunday News Business last Wednesday that the local authority was in the process of engaging the Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to consider forfeiting licences of two firms, which were given Special Grants to explore and exploit for coal and another one for coalbed methane gas as they have taken long to start operations.
The three companies, namely China Africa Sunlight Energy, Liberation Coal Mining and Discovery Investments are part of the 20 entities, which were awarded a Special Grant by the Government to explore and extract coal and coal bed methane gas in the Hwange-Lupane area in 2010.
“We have three mining companies that had indicated to start operations within our area of jurisdiction and these are China Africa Sunlight Energy, Liberation Mining and Discovery Investments. There is nothing going on at their concessions and to make matters worse these companies haven’t been paying levies to the council claiming that they are still to start operations thus they are not obliged to pay.
“We, however, think that these companies don’t have the capacity to run these mines and are probably holding onto them for speculative purposes and therefore we are calling on the Ministry of Mines to cancel their licences. During our meeting with the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) he had assured us that such mines who fail to pay levies to local authorities won’t have their licenses renewed but that hasn’t been implemented yet,” said Clr Ngwenya.
China Africa Sunlight Energy and Liberation Coal Mining’s concessions are located in the Gwayi area. Apart from extracting coal China Africa Sunlight Energy had indicated that it would inject more than US$1 billion for the construction of a thermal power station. Discovery Investments seeks to extract coalbed methane gas within its Special Grant situated at Mzola and Dandanda communal areas.
The company was issued with an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate by the Environmental Management Agency in 2015 to start setting up its infrastructure in preparation to start harnessing the methane gas at its concession. The gas has an estimated lifespan of about 50 years. The three mining firms are reported to be owing the local authority over $500 000 in levies.
“Their failure to pay levies is affecting our revenue collection initiatives and it impacts negatively on our yearly budget as we will have factored the funds we are entitled to get from them. We are now planning to have our own concessions and seek investors to partner us to harness these natural resources at our disposal,” said Clr Ngwenya.
Local Government and Public Works Deputy Minister Marian Chombo said there was an agreement which the ministry reached with the Ministry Mines and Mining Development whereby miners’ mining licences would not be renewed without proof of them having paid their levies to local authorities.
“There is an agreement between the Ministry of Mines and that of Local Government that whenever a local mining company wants to renew their permit or licence they have to produce clearance from a local authority. If they don’t do that, they have to clear up the arrears with the local authority first and that will bring us a little bit of revenue for the local authorities to be more viable,” she said.
A comment from the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Wiston Chitando or his Deputy Polite Kambamura could not be obtained by the time of going to press.