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HomeNewsSmall Scale Miners Wary of Proposed Mining Affairs Board

Small Scale Miners Wary of Proposed Mining Affairs Board

MUTARE– An association of small scale miners led by the vocal Blessing Togarepi has described as an unnecessary bottleneck, the proposed amendments to the Mines bill which seeks to grant the Mining Affairs board power to issue mining licenses.

With the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill going through Parliament for deliberation, the Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Association (ASSA) chairperson and former executive of the Zimbabwe Miner Federation (ZMF), Togarepi said the amendment favours big players who will be able to grab lucrative claims identified by small scale miners.

In his letter to the Clerk of Parliament, Togarepi said while he appreciates some improvements and amendments to the bill, the awarding of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPO) though a board could be subject to manipulation.

“…There are areas which we have noted with concern that if these amendments are to be adopted, then small scale miners will not enjoy and benefit compared to a situation whereby a status quo is maintained.

“It is noteworthy, that the new sections that substituted sections; 20, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 27 of Cap. 21:05 are suggesting that an individual or a company will no longer walk into the office of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to buy a prospecting licence and go straight to prospect or search for the mineral in your target area.

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“Our borne of disagreement is what reason justifies the involvement of a board in granting mining rights? How many times will that board sit and how many people will be interviewed weekly, monthly and annually?

“Is this not creating a needless bottleneck in mineral searching and mine titles administration? How inclusive is the board system judging from similar boards elsewhere? How many people will qualify before a board? If the board knows how lucrative and promising is the area that I want to extract, will it not be tempted to decline my application and later sell my find to the highest bidder,” said Togarepi.

Emirates

Nigel Sithole a legal practitioner and secretary for the Young Miners Foundation (YMF) said the Mining Affairs body proposed in the amendment’s is regressive as it does not have a cross representation of sectors.

Sithole said to promote good corporate governance and independence the board should include players from the academia, civil society, young miners (artisanal or small scale), large scale miners and community representatives.

He said the foremost consideration is the independence of the board which will be limited by the Permanent Secretary, who will chair the board, conflicting with his role as an implementer of government policy.

“It’s ridiculous in my opinion, there is no independence why create a board in the first place that is run by the same person who runs the Ministry, there have been calls that the secretary should not even be on the board,” said Sithole.

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The Mines and Minerals Portfolio Committee in 2018 led by then chair Temba Mliswa also tabled similar misgivings aired during public hearings where ‘it clearly emerged that the majority of views did not want the Secretary of Mines to chair this Board’.

“The fear was that Permanent Secretary will undertake multiple roles: that of advisory, of oversight and implementation. The views of the people were that this should be an independent Board which makes recommendations which can either be adopted or rejected by the Secretary,” read a report by the committee.

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