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Zimbabwe to review mining contracts

Tendai Biti,
Zimbabwean Finance
Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 06 July 2009 – The government of Zimbabwe has revealed its intention to re-evaluate all mining contracts and to introduce a ‘use it or lose it’ policy for the mining industry of the Southern African country.

Reuters reports that the vetting of mining contracts by Zimbabwe’s unity government of President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is likely to surprise investors at a time Harare is wooing them to help repair a battered economy.

Mining has become the leading source of foreign exchange, with gold accounting for a third of exports, but political turmoil, lack of energy and unfavourable regulatory rules have led to several mines closing.

“The government is working on a new mining law and amendments to the mining laws, so that we will comply with new standards for the extractive industries on which the World Bank is insisting,” finance minister Tendai Biti said in an interview with Reuters.

“That law will introduce the concept of ‘use it or lose it’ with respect to mining claims. It will also introduce the re-evaluation of every mining contract that has been signed in Zimbabwe.”

Biti declined to say when the proposed law would be brought to parliament, so as to avoid pre-empting the mines minister.

The key players in Zimbabwe include Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) – the world’s second largest producer of the metal – which has the biggest mining investments in Zimbabwe. Its bigger rival Anglo Platinum and Rio Tinto also have mining interests in the country.
Impala Platinum and Anglo Platinum officials in Johannesburg said they were unaware of Zimbabwe’s plan to re-check mining contracts, and would wait for more details before making a comment.