Zimbabwean mines
minister Obert Mpofu
 
Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 March 2010 – The government of Zimbabwe has prepared an amended mining law to be presented to cabinet for approval before it is debated in parliament, but it is not clear if the amendment bill will still prescribe 51% local ownership of all mines.

President Robert Mugabe’s government initially published a draft law in 2006, seeking to force foreign miners to sell 51% ownership to local Zimbabweans and to give up 25% free equity to the state, but the bill lapsed before it was passed.

Now mines minister Obert Mpofu says the bill has been revived, but has declined to say if the amended bill will prescribe 51% local ownership of all mines in the country.

The mining industry has emerged as Zimbabwe’s top foreign currency earner after the collapse of commercial agriculture, blamed on Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned farms to resettle landless black people.

“The amendment is ready,” Mpofu told reporters here. “As you know, when a draft bill is ready, it is taken to cabinet, to the cabinet committee on legislation, and then back to cabinet for final approval,” he explained. “Only then is it taken to parliament.”

Mpofu said the bill would go to parliament later this year.

A power-sharing government set up last year by Mugabe and bitter rival Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, has promised to be flexible in its application of the 2008 empowerment law, which seeks to transfer majority shareholding in all foreign firms, including mines, to indigenous black people.

Mpofu said the Mines Ministry was studying the empowerment regulations which came into effect last week. “We are currently looking at the indigenisation law, and we want to make sure that legislation tallies. It is not me who will decide ownership thresholds, but parliament,” he added. Mpofu said he had consulted widely, including with mining companies, before producing the draft.

The Chamber of Mines said it had not seen the bill, but had proposed setting mining firms a target of 25% local ownership within 10 years, while giving empowerment credits for social investments and infrastructure spending.