GOVERNMENT says the new mining licence fees gazetted in January will not be reversed despite calls by the mining industry for the levies to be reduced.
The new fees for the mining sector range between U$3 000 and US$5 million.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu yesterday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that the new fees regime had started paying dividends.
Guruve South legislator for Zanu-PF, Edward Chindori Chininga, chairs the committee.
The MPs raised concerns with the new fees structure. They argued that the new fees were frustrating the indigenisation and economic empowerment drive Government has embarked on.
“Since we increased the fees we have so far collected US$10 million because now we have serious miners who are mining than the scenario we had before, where people would hoard mining claims for speculative purposes,” Mpofu said.
The rationale behind increasing the mining sector fees, he said, was to curb speculative behaviour by some claim owners.
“We have been tracking the listing of companies and we realised most of them are registered and listed in foreign countries,” said Mpofu.
“On the ground they won’t be doing anything but just use the mines to count them as their assets. We thought if we could come up with these fees it would be a deterrent measure for those who hoard claims for speculative purposes and I must say it has started paying off.
“In terms of the Medium Term Plan the mining sector is forecast to achieve the 15,8 percent growth target.” Minister Mpofu said the fees will also decongest prospecting and mining ground.
He said it will be cheaper for indigenous Zimbabweans to apply for mining licences than to buy shares from an already existing company.
The Minister said in the diamond industry the fees could be paid by money from one carat when cut and well polished.
Government, he said, has already told Zimplats to release some of the platinum claims they will not exploit anytime soon. We have told them that they will have to release the land on terms given by Government.
“The challenge we have is that some of the land they are holding will be mined for the next 300 years so we want to give it to other people so that they can mine now,” Mpofu said.
Legislators urged Government to be consistent with their pronouncements.
Chindori Chininga said when Government took the land that was released by some platinum mining companies, the intention was to give the claims to indigenous Zimbabweans.
“Our understanding now is that the land has been given to a foreigner again.
“There is need for Government to be consistent,” Chindori Chininga said.
Mpofu said gold production had increased to 15 tonnes per year compared to 3 tonnes produced three years ago. He took a swipe at Fidelity Printers for frustrating gold miners by delaying to pay them for gold delivered.
Fidelity Printers, the Minister said, took about a month before paying for gold delivered. He said small-scale gold miners had delivered about 600kg of gold between January and April, compared to only two tonnes delivered by big gold mines.
Mpofu castigated Zimasco for manipulating small-scale chrome miners by determining prices for chrome ore mined from fields attributed to Zimasco.
Highfield East legislator and diamond cutter, Pearson Mungofa (MDC-T), complained that diamond mining companies at Chiadzwa are giving poor quality rough diamonds to local cutters while exporting the best ones.
Mpofu said he had received such complaints, adding that he instructed the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation to ensure local companies are given good quality diamonds.
The legislators said there was need for Government to come up with measures to stop big mining companies from banking outside the country.
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