Sunday, May 15, 2016

Raw Mineral Exports Banned in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

THE Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill (2015), which is before the Attorney-General for proof-reading, will address ambiguities of land use between agriculture and mining, and ensure maximum production in the extractice sector.

A key intervention is the outlawing of the export of raw minerals except with the written consent of Government (Section 307A).

A senior official in the Mines and Mining Development Ministry confirmed the Bill’s status last week.

The Bill, which has been in the works for nine years, will replace the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05) of 1963 if President Mugabe signs it into law.

Delays in coming up with the new legislation have been attributed to endless consultations prior to drafting.

Government plans to make the Act an instrument that facilitates growth and investment to a sector that has contributed more than US$10 billion to the fiscus in the past five years.

The mining sector is forecast to contribute 25 percent to GDP and more than 65 percent of national exports in the next 15 years.

Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe president Mr Isaac Kwesu said last week engagement between Government and the sector was an on-going process.

“Obviously, the process is problematic but the issue is that you want a full-baked product not a half-baked product. Indeed it has taken a lot of time because even during (the late) Minister (Edward) Chindori-Chininga’s time, it was always being done.

“Other ministers came but I think this team (current ministers), with all due respect, have done their best because others spent five years without doing anything. So we can say it has taken long but we are constantly being informed of progress and already, Parliament has had sight of it,” said Mr Kwesu.

The new law will improve relations between farmers and miners, introduce a Cadastre register, outlaw child labour in mining, and impose punitive measures on smugglers of precious stones and minerals.

Miners will also be compelled to comply with environmental regulations.

The Cadastre system uses manual or electronic management and recording of processes that create mining rights and titles.

Section 16(1) says the Cadastre Registrar shall establish and maintain a central office in Harare with exclusive authority and jurisdiction over the whole country.

The Cadastre Register will carry, among other things, the name of every holder of a mining right or title, or limitation of a mining right or title; the chronological record of dates; and time of lodging of applications for mining rights or title and contact details of the applicant.

The register is expected to improve efficiency in allocation of mining claims insofar as all concessions will be computerised, thus reducing multiple allocation which is rife under the existing system.

Since 2000 when all land became a State asset, there have been endless clashes between farmers and miners over claims falling within the premises of the former.

“In my view, the most critical issue in the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is to do with the relations between farmers and miners. This was occasioned by the turf wars that we have seen in recent years where farmers want to claim ownership of both the farming land and minerals that occur on their farms.

“This came into being after the realisation that minerals are found on arable land. So the Bill permits farmers to claim compensation from the miner. The bottom line is that there should be co-existence between farmers and miners,” said Mines Ministry official.

Section 85C of the Bill stipulates that should a dispute arise between a holder of a prospecting licence or a special grant to prospect or an exclusive prospecting order, and a landowner or occupier of land, the matter shall be referred to the Administrative Court.

The Bill also imposes the “use it or lose it” principle for exclusive prospecting licences to ensure mining claim holders do not use their title for speculative purposes.

While Section 21(2) of the Bill notes that “every exclusive prospecting licence shall be valid for a period of twelve months”, Section 92(2) says exclusive exploration licences are issued for not more than three years, but the President may extend them for a further period not exceeding three years.

Coking coal, natural and coal bed methane gas, uranium, platinum group of metals, iron ore and natural graphite will be reclassified as “strategic”.

As a result, unique conditions as may be provided under the law will be attached to their exploration, ownership, exploitation, beneficiation, marketing and development.

There is also renewed focus on the environment.

In deciding whether or not to grant a mineral right or title, consideration will be given to the need to conserve natural resources in or on the land over which the mineral right or title is sought.

If passed into law, the new law will take a hardline stance against mining companies that use child labour.

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