In an announcement expected to come as sweet news to edgy foreign
investors, the Zimbabwean premier reassured the investors of moves by
the new Harare regime to restore viability in key economic sectors.
Large mining houses have kept away from Zimbabwe’s mining sector after
an economic crisis worsened by President Robert Mugabe’s policies,
including a nationalisation law targeting majority holding by locals
in foreign-owned mines.
Under the nationalisation plan, Mugabe had ordered foreign-owned
miners to surrender 51 percent of their shareholding to locals.
The plans of the previous government to nationalise the mines have
been shelved, Tsvangirai said during an address to the US Senate on
Mining has become a pillar of the country’s battered economy,
following the collapse of commercial farming, with gold alone
generating a third of all export revenue.
Tsvangirai last month said the southern African country could attract
up to US$16 billion in exploration and mining investment if it
corrected policies that have scared away foreign investors.
There has been no exploration since 2002 in Zimbabwe, which has the
second largest platinum deposits after South Africa and boasts large
reserves of gold, copper, coal and nickel.
Some of the major miners operating in Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum
Holdings (Implats), which is the foreign firm with the biggest mining
investments, its rival Anglo Platinum and global player Rio Tinto.
Several mines have shut down in the past year, suffocated by
hyper-inflation, and shortages of skills, power and foreign currency.
Critics had previously warned that if having empowerment or locals
owning shares in foreign owned companies is not handled carefully, the
country could see a repeat of the chaotic land reforms where Mugabe’s
allies and top government and security officials largely benefited
from seized white-owned farms.