Ownership rules for platinum and diamonds to stay: Min Chitando

Harare – Minister of Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando on Monday said Government does not plan to change its ownership rules for diamonds and platinum, denting hopes among some miners the country will open up ownership as it announces mineral frameworks in the coming weeks.

In March this year, the country changed its empowerment law limiting the rules that mandate majority state ownership to diamond and platinum, rather than the mining sector as a whole.

Chitando who is attending the investment conference in London, told the Reuters that there would be “no change” for diamonds and platinum following industry speculation that the indigenisation rules could be relaxed further.

However, some section of the mining industry still hopes there could be flexibility of the empowerment law if miners were, for instance, investing heavily in the local community.

Following the ousting of Zimbabwe’s long-term ruler, Robert Mugabe in a military aided intervention the country has made significant strides in trying to open up to investors and healing the wounds left by the nonagenarian leader.

Since the inception of the new administration the country held a series of conferences in Africa, as well as in London raising expectations the mineral-rich southern African country would become more investor friendly.

However, progress has been slow but Chitando said the country was determined to bring about change and over the coming weeks would roll out policies for various minerals, including diamonds and gold.

While the indigenisation rules – insisting the state holds 51 percent of platinum or diamond mines – remain in place, Chitando said the diamond policy would focus on developing greater value from the industry.

He said, for instance, the government is trying to ensure the cutting and polishing of stones takes place in Zimbabwe rather than in other countries.

Most of the diamond fields are in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe, where production is dominated by the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. It is expected to produce 3.5-million carats this year, up from 2.5-million in 2017.

In early 2016, Mugabe’s government evicted all diamond mining firms, including two Chinese joint venture companies from Marange, saying their licences had expired after they declined to merge under a newly created state-owned mining firm.

The Chinese have been lobbying the new government of Emmerson Mnangagwa to be let back in, but so far without success.

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