Idle diamond miners face eviction

07 Oct, 2016 - 00:10 0 Views
Idle diamond miners face eviction Minister Chidhakwa

The Herald

Minister Chidhakwa

Minister Chidhakwa

George Chisoko and Takunda Maodza—
Zimbabwe is losing millions of dollars in potential revenue monthly as lucrative diamond claims in Marange lie idle following a stand-off between Government and the former miners whose special grants to mine have since expired. Government is now contemplating evicting the mining firms and

repossessing the claims to generate revenue for Treasury and alleviate the country’s liquidity crunch. In an interview yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the companies were costing the country millions of dollars in potential revenue monthly by refusing to vacate.

Government decided not to renew the special grants for all companies that were mining in Marange on expiry after it emerged that some of them were siphoning billions of dollars out of the country through Idle diamond miners face eviction underhand dealings.

A new structure of a single consolidated entity, Zimbabwe Diamond Consolidated Company (ZDC), wholly owned by Government, was then formed. It is the Government’s new approach that for transparency purposes, diamond operations should fall under one controlling structure rather than the multiple ad hoc system that was previously adopted.

Minister Chidhakwa said production on claims that used to belong to companies like Diamond Mining Company but were now under the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) had greatly increased.

“What used to be DMC has since doubled its production from approximately between 20 000 and 25 000 carats a month to between 40 000 and 45 000 carats a month. What used to be Marange Resources was below 10 000 carats a month but now they have gone up to between 50 000 and 55 000 carats a month which is giving us about 100 000 carats and you can imagine what would have been the situation if we had done the same thing in the other three concessions. We would in fact exceed 250 000 carats a month that I spoke about when we took over operations in Marange,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

He said the continued refusal by the diamond companies to leave Marange was prejudicing the Government of potential revenue.

“So it is really making it difficult for us to take over operations, to continue mining and interestingly because the ZCDC is only owned by the State the money coming out of those diamonds would have been made available to the fiscus, to the budget and would have lessened some of the difficulties that we are currently going through and therefore we continue to ask the companies to go by the law. We have asked our lawyers to remind them that they must operate within the law,” added Minister Chidhakwa.

He warned his ministry contemplated evicting the miners.

“It has kept us out of Chiadzwa. We thought by now we would have consolidated ourselves in the mines, that ZCDC would have taken full control of the mines and that ZCDC by now would be mining at least five locations but unfortunately they went to the Constitutional Court. It became difficult for us to take over the ground,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

He added: “But what we did was we decided to put in place a process of eviction after the 90 days expired. The law says after the 90 days that allow them to take their equipment, we can in fact go by way of eviction. So that is the process we are undertaking now.”

Minister Chidhakwa said when the ministry ordered the companies to stop operations they went to court and it was pronounced that their Special Grants had expired and allowing the companies to resume operations was illegal.

“What they subsequently did was to go to the Constitutional Court seeking rights and as you know rights in the mining sector are conferred by His Excellency the President in form of Special Grants in mining leases and in this case their special grants had elapsed. They had no rights and so we wonder what they are doing at the Constitutional Court asking for rights which by law had in fact expired,” he said.

In February, Minister Chidhakwa gave the miners operating at Chiadzwa and Chimanimani 90 days to remove their equipment and other valuables from the fields.

Special grants in the two areas were issued to Anjin, Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan, Mbada Diamonds, DTZ Ozgeo, Rera, Gye-Nyame, Kusena and Marange Resources.

This was after Government decided to consolidate all diamond mining in Zimbabwe into one company — ZCDC to improve efficiency and accountability. This is the trend in other diamond producing countries in the region like Botswana, Namibia and Angola, Government argued. Marange Resources accepted the consolidation proposal.

“The investors in the Joint Venture companies, Grandwell and AFECC, respectively, made unilateral submissions to the Government opposing the consolidation proposals,” said Minister Chidhakwa in February this year.

Minister Chidhakwa said the consolidated firm sought to benefit both the companies and Zimbabwe. The consolidated firm was expected to own concessions in Chiadzwa, Zvishavane diamond kimberlites currently under Murowa and Beitbridge diamond kimberlites under River Ranch Diamonds as well as those to be discovered in future.

Government owned 50 percent shareholding in all the companies, except for Marange Resources it wholly owned.

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