In a bid to minimise speculative holders of mining grants, proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act state that an exclusive exploration licence shall not be issued for more than three years. “Most mining grants have been held for speculative purposes for some time now and the new Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill seeks to address the issue by making sure that an exploration licence duration will only last for three years, said deputy legal advisor to the Mines and Mining Development Tamary Vhiriri while unpacking the draft Bill to Parliamentarians yesterday.
She said in the event the three years had lapsed without any development with regards to exploration, the miner will definitely lose the licence.
“For a long time people have kept grants for speculative purposes and when asked of progress they would just hide behind the issue of exploration.”
The draft says if the three-year period has lapsed, the President may extend it for a further period not exceeding three years. The draft also proposes that no mining title shall be granted to a public company unless majority of its shares are listed on a securities exchange in Zimbabwe.
“The Minister shall be entitled to cancel any mining right or title once it is proven that any person has falsified information required. Any company that requires a mining right or title which is listed on foreign exchange outside Zimbabwe shall be obliged to notify the Minister of Mines and Mining Development of such listing, and 85 percent of funds raised from such listing shall be used solely for the development of mining rights and title in Zimbabwe.”
The Mines and Mining Development Minister shall be entitled to cancel any mining title once it is proven that any person has falsified information required with regards to the issue highlighted above.
Any person who fails to comply with the legislation shall be guilty of an offense and liable to a fine equivalent to 100 percent of cash raised at the foreign listing or to imprisonment for a period of not exceeding 10 years or both such fine and imprisonment.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said following nationwide consultations, the ministry was able to come up with the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill of 2015.
“Amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act has been in the pipeline for a considerable time and the nation is waiting eagerly for the completion of this amendment process. The amendment is now a necessity rather than a choice since it addresses the shortcomings of the current archaic Act in place by aligning it to the aspirations, demands and expectations of Zimbabweans against a background of global best practices,” he said.
Analysts have said if the Mines and Minerals Act, crafted in 1963, is amended, it is likely to promote investment into the mining sector. Minister Chidhakwa also told Parliamentarians that Government has identified 19 strategic minerals under the draft Amendment Act.
“In the new Bill, strategic minerals are defined as minerals deemed strategic on account of their importance to economic, social, industrial and security development of the country,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
He said, for ease of title management, the draft proposes that the current system which is manual be replaced by a computerised Cadastre system in which the Permanent Secretary will be the Cadastre Registrar.
Minister Chidhakwa also highlighted that the draft seeks to extend the operations of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe to do exploration while also proposing the setting of Pan-African University of Science and Technology.
Mining is strategic to Zimbabwe as it presently accounts for more than 50 percent of exports and is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment. Amending the legislation would ensure loose ends on the existing Act are tied, spurring further growth in the sector.