The Mines and Mining Development ministry is calling for a ban on all riverbed mining except when a mining operation is in a joint venture agreement with the Government. The proposals are contained in the draft Mines and Minerals amendment Bill. The proposed ban on riverbed mining is likely to further dampen efforts by the Russian mining company DTZ-OZGEO to resume operations at their Penhalonga alluvial gold claim situated along the Mutare River. The mining company is jointly owned by Development Trust of Zimbabwe with 40 percent interest and Russian company Econedra Limited with 60 percent.
The proposed amendments are also expected to put a stop on illegal gold mining activities that have been going on along Mazowe and other rivers across the country.
“Any person who contravenes the legislation shall be guilty of an offence and liable.
“In the case where you are found in possession of strategic minerals, you will be liable to pay a fine twice the value of the minerals as valuated by a qualified assayer through a certificate or both such fine and imprisonment,” said deputy legal advisor to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Tamary Vhiriri yesterday.
“Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development shall reserve the right to carry out mining operations on riverbeds.”
For better exercise of its right to mine along riverbed, Government will enter into joint ventures with relevant companies and organisations and may also create special purpose vehicles for the efficient carry-out of operations.
Where Government undertakes mining operations on riverbeds, it shall ensure the protection of the environment by undertaking such mining operations in accordance with prescribed environmental impact assessment guidelines.
The proposed amendments also outlines that the Environmental Management Agency shall ensure that all riverbed mining operations are done in accordance with the preferred standards and no damage of pollution is caused.
On the case of DTZ, the mining company’s operations were affected by Government’s directive to freeze all mining activities along rivers following reports of siltation and massive land degradation along the Mazowe River.
DTZ has always said that it mined 103 hectares of land since the beginning of their operations and rehabilitated 86,7 hectares of that.
Analysts are, however, of the view that the bill was crafted to address cases where miners attempt to circumvent environmentally friendly mining.