Source: The Zimbabwe Situation, 16 March 2016

The government said Monday that amending the country’s mining law has become urgent to bring new changes that will go a long way in addressing the shortcomings of the outdated legislation.

Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa told legislators that the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill of 2015 was now in place and due to be tabled in parliament for debate.

“The Amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act is now a necessity rather than a choice since it addresses the shortcomings of the current archaic Act in place by aligning it to the aspirations, demands and expectations of Zimbabweans against a background of global best practices,” Chidhakwa said.

The country’s Mines and Minerals Act was crafted during the colonial era in 1963 and now needs to be overhauled to bring it in line with new developments in the mining sector.

Amendments to the Act have been in the pipeline for several years now, but nothing tangible has been done.

If the Act is amended, it is likely to promote investment and sustainable development as it will guarantee security of tenure and aid efficient use of land, as well as solve land conflicts between miners and farmers.

Civil society has suggested that an amended Mines and Minerals Act should include clauses on small-scale and artisanal miners, rural communities affected by mining activities, corporate social responsibility by mining companies, and rehabilitation of the environment after mining activities.

Other main features of the amended law include reviewing the mining titles administration system and reforming the mines affairs board.

The amendments also seek to engender security of tenure and effective environmental management best practices.

Security of tenure will be key to attracting potential investors in the sector after government last month closed operations of six diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa, and gave them 90 days to remove their equipment because they had refused to merge their operations into one entity majority owned by government.

Some of the firms have since taken government to court, challenging their forced eviction from the fields.

Mining is strategic to Zimbabwe as it presently accounts for more than 50 percent of exports and is a major source of Foreign Direct Investment.

The mining sector has been largely weighed down by skewed policies that have hindered growth of smaller miners.

Amending the legislation would ensure loose ends on the existing Act are tied, spurring further growth in the sector.

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