Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 October 2009 – The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines has made proposals for the country’s mining bill that seek to strike a balance between attracting investors and indigenisation, to reassure foreign investors concerned over talk of nationalisation.
An initial bill “’ which sought to force foreign mining companies to sell 51% of their shares to locals, and to give a 25% equity in some companies without paying “’ raised concerns among investors, but lapsed before it was passed.
That proposed bill led to the withholding of badly needed investment in Zimbabwe, which is struggling to recover from economic collapse under the new unity government between President Robert Mugabe and old rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
Reuters reports that, following the collapse of commercial agriculture, mining has become the top foreign currency earner, with gold alone bringing in a third of total export earnings to a country that says it is unlikely to receive bilateral assistance soon.
As part of its proposals, seen by Reuters yesterday, the Chamber of Mines has asked the government to set mining firms a target of 25% local ownership within 10 years, and to use a scorecard system to measure empowerment levels in the sector.
The government will now decide whether to include the proposals in a long-awaited mining amendment bill that is expected to be debated in parliament before the end of the year.
The chamber’s proposals, which have already been presented to the country’s mining ministry, require mining companies to set aside a minimum 10% equity for acquisition by locals within 10 years.
The chamber’s proposals are in line with a similar drive in South Africa, which has adopted black economic empowerment (BEE) to include blacks in the mainstream economy after years of exclusion under apartheid. South Africa adopted BEE legislation four years ago compelling mining companies to sell 15% of their assets to black investors by 2009 and 26% by 2014.