Felex Share and Samantha Chigogo
There is no going back on consolidating mining activities at Chiadzwa and a number of concessions in the area have already been registered under the new entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, a Cabinet minister has said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday said companies holding concessions of strategic minerals for speculative purposes would lose them once amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act were approved.
He made the remarks while delivering a lecture on the challenges and prospects of reviving the mining sector at the Zimbabwe Staff College in Harare.
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“Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is a company that we registered a few months ago and it is a company under which a number of concessions have now been registered,” Minister Chidhakwa said.
“What used to be the Kusena concessions have now been put under ZCDC, what used to be the Gye-Nyame concessions have been put under them and all the other concessions have been registered under them.”
Government recently ordered the companies mining in Chiadzwa to cease operations and vacate the area within three months.
Only Marange Resources, which is wholly owned by Government, was spared.
Minister Chidhakwa said Government was putting in place structures for the new diamond entity.
“We have carried out interviews for the five portals that are going to have mining activities for ZCDC and there will obviously be a mine manager and his entire team,” he said.
“They are not separate legal entities, they are divisions of ZCDC and report directly to ZCDC. I’m happy to report that the activities of Marange Resources are now being incorporated into ZCDC and mining continues. We continue to produce. Yesterday (Wednesday), I went to see the production that has taken place over the last week and I’m reasonably satisfied that we are in the right direction.
“At the end of the month, we will have our next auction, which I believe is going to be a significant size auction and after that we are hoping that our auctions will be bigger.”
Some of the affected companies such as Mbada Diamonds and Anjin Investments have taken Government to court, challenging its decision.
Said Minister Chidhakwa: “If this economy is going to recover, it will do so because we are selfless. It will do so because we recognise that we exist in a national context; that we have got other people who also have a right to the mineral resources of this country. Not just you!
“That is why we are moving irrevocably towards seeing that the diamonds of this country do not belong to you, to me. They belong to us all and they must be owned by the State. If there is a thinking that we will take a step back, go and tell whoever is dreaming that we will not do that.”
He said the proposed Mines and Mineral Act would contain a “use it or lose it policy” to deal with companies holding concessions — of any strategic mineral—for notional purposes.
“We will dismantle structures we inherited from the colonial era,” Minister Chidhakwa said.
“We have already given notices to the companies that they cannot hold onto land just for speculative purposes. You were given land to mine it, and if you cannot mine it we will take it back. These are the things that will go into the Act so that we democratise access to land for mining.”
Minister Chidhakwa said the proposed law would ensure farmers and miners co-existed, while mining companies would also be required to adhere to set environmental regulations.
“People are used to digging, get what they want and we handover to the next generation of Zimbabwe a country that has been mutilated,” he said.
“We will be putting strong structures that will enable us to cover for the dongas, even if you abandon and run away. It will be mining with rehabilitation this time.”