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Zimbabwe plans to woo foreign miners

Obert Mpofu,
Zimbabwean minister
of mines and mining
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 07 August 2009 – The government of Zimbabwe is consulting the country’s mining industry about legal changes that would be likely to encourage mining companies to start exploiting the country’s mineral deposits.

Addressing a conference here, Zimbabwean minister of mines and mining development Obert Mpofu revealed that the new laws would be based on the principal of “use it or lose it” for mineral deposits.

He said that new mining laws would be pushed through parliament quickly to help revive growth in an economy that had contracted for the past decade. Gross domestic product had shrunk by 14.1% last year alone.

“We’re going to interact with the business people,” Mpofu said. “Things in Zimbabwe are moving at a speed which people won’t believe. The country’s future in mining is bright.”

A previous mining bill, which wasn’t signed into law, sought to seize 51% of all mine ownership for black Zimbabweans and the government. “New proposals on changes to the laws will be submitted to the current sitting of parliament,” Mpofu added.

Growth in the mining industry is being hampered by poor electricity supplies which are meeting only about 60% of miners’ needs, according to Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines president Victor Gapare. The chamber represents most medium and large-scale miners in the country.

Gapare said Zimbabwe’s gold production had slumped to 3.5 metric tonnes last year, from 27 tonnes in 1999. “Platinum production is likely to reach 1 million ounces a year in the next 15 years from 170,000 ounces a year now,” he added.

Zesa Holdings, “’ Zimbabwe’s state-owned power utility “’ is seeking US$900 million (R7 billion) to rehabilitate power generation and supplies, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said on its Web site. The Herald didn’t quote a source for the information.