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05 Aug 2009 11:45
Zimbabwe’s mines minister said on Wednesday the country was reviewing a Bill forcing foreign companies to sell stakes in their businesses to make it more user-friendly.
Under proposed indigenisation laws, foreign companies cannot hold more than 49% of a business and must sell any stake above that to Zimbabweans.
“We are going to come up with user-friendly legislation. The Bill will be finalised soon and presented to Parliament in the current session,” Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu told an investment conference in Johannesburg.
Foreign investors have said the Bill in its current form would discourage investment in mining.
Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines said with proper incentives, gold production would rise to 50 tonnes per year by 2015 from 3,5 tonnes last year.
Mpofu also said that the political environment now offered peace and social stability.
“The parties in the new government are working together in mutual tolerance for the development of Zimbabwe.
“I want to express my gratitude to the multinational miners that are already in Zimbabwe, such as Rio Tinto, Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum and many others.
“These companies have stood by us and they are committed to long-term investment in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The minister stressed that the country had many advantages when it came to mining.
“We still have a high availability of skilled mining labour in the country, and some of those with skills who are outside the country are willing to come home. I know as I have spoken to them,” Mpofu said.
He added that Zimbabwe had good road, rail and air links.
“We may be landlocked but we are still accessible because we use both Beira and Durban ports,” he said.
Asked if Zimbabwe was contemplating a “use it or lose it” policy when it came to prospecting rights, the minister said the government was giving the idea close attention.
“We are contemplating introducing that measure, but this is aimed at those who have been sitting on claims for a long, long time.
“Other investors may want to come into these areas but they are unable to,” Mpofu said.
Turning to the challenge of electricity and power supplies for the mining industry, he said the problem was “a regional one”.
“But we have been discussing this with Zesa [Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority] and we are discussing a number of projects. But in the long-term it’s really an issue of capital,”
“But things are moving quickly in Zimbabwe at a speed people don’t believe ... the country’s future in mining is bright.”—Reuters, Sapa
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