Zimbabwe to host mining conference

strip_mineHARARE - Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government will this month hold an international mining conference in Harare in a desperate bid to woo investors and save the flagging mining sector. The two-day conference scheduled to start on September 16 is the first
mining indaba since formation in February of an inclusive government made up of ZANU PF and the two MDC forma

“The focus of the indaba is about reviving the mining sector in Zimbabwe and putting Zimbabwe back on the map as an attractive mining destination,” the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development said in a statement on Tuesday. “Zimbabwe mining sector is certainly very topical at present, and discussions will centre around, but not limited, to investment opportunities and processes in the mining sector, the macro-economic environment, mining exploration, indigenisation and empowerment.”

The conference would be officially opened by President Robert Mugabe, with

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai also addressing the indaba. Several international mining executives, among them Tanzania Chamber of Mines president Emmanuel Jengo, South Africa’s Public Investment Corp chief executive officer Fidelis Madavo and former chief executive officer of Harmony Gold Bernard Swanepoel.

The conference would be held about four months after government withdrew from Parliament a controversial Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill that sought to cede 51 percent of all foreign-owned mining firms to Zimbabweans. The Bill was withdrawn to allow for consultations with stakeholders. Ministry of Mines permanent secretary Thankful Musukutwa said there was a realisation in government that the Bill in its present form would render Zimbabwe unable to attract meaningful investment in the mining sector.

“Zimbabwe competes with other countries for investors. What would be contained in the new Bill is dependent on the consultations and input stakeholders would have put forward,” he said. The Bill, among other investor-unfriendly facets, sought to transfer a

majority stake in international mining houses to locals, including giving the Zimbabwe government a free 25 percent stake.

Under the draft law, foreign firms mining strategic minerals such as coal and coal-bed methane were required to cede 51 percent shareholding to government, with the state taking 25 percent of that for free. Government was also entitled to take 25 percent shareholding in precious minerals such as gold, diamonds and platinum while 26 percent would go to locals. The changes to the Mines and Minerals Act were approved by the Cabinet in 2006, but never signed into law.

Mining accounts for about 4 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 16 percent of total annual foreign currency earnings to the country. Over the past decade most mines in the country shut down due to the country’s poor economic performance blamed on poor policies by Mugabe’s administration.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe has reportedly grossed US$19,6 million from diamond sales during the first seven months of this year, amid concerns of human rights abuses at diamond fields in Manicaland.

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