Blessings Chidakwa, Harare Bureau
Government is owed a cumulative US$206m in unpaid mining taxes and has since declared that it will soon be forfeiting claims held for speculative purposes.
According to Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura, Government will this month deliberate on objections made regarding the Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs).
Speaking in Chinhoyi recently, Deputy Minister Kambamura said the accumulative debt was as a result of bad attitude from mining companies reluctant to support Government.
“The US$206 million owed is a cumulative figure compromising of unpaid ground rentals, unpaid special grants and some are continuing to mine without paying those fees.
“We are contemplating forfeiting claims on such grounds of non-payment because people are only complaining that things are tough, but on inspection it’s only a paltry US$100 per year with a mining resource, yet a gramme [of gold] is being purchased at fairly reasonable price,” he said.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said Government would first give debtors notices before forfeiting the claims.
“We are going to forfeit on those grounds just to try and recover the money owed but will give people notices first to come forward and pay on an agreed date.
“Failure to pay then, we will forfeit and follow legal channels to recover those monies because of late even if a person owed $20 000, Government would just forfeit without making a following up. This time we forfeit and follow up the legal way,” he said.
On Government’s position regarding EPO’s, Deputy Minister Kambamura said the issue will be tabled before the mining board this month.
“We have vast pieces of land throughout the provinces set aside for exploration, as the procedure is a lot of those EPOs were objected. The mining affairs board will be seating this month to consider all those objections and everyone who objected will be called to come forward and explain reasons for objections.
“Thereafter the body will make a decision whether to issue such EPOs or not. Of late there have been some EPOs that were applied time back and since then the owners of such did not come forward with any exploration results or reports.
“All such cases are going to be considered under the ‘use it or lose it’ principle going to be announced by Mines and Mining Development Minister this month,” he said.
Deputy Minister Kambamura also castigated some mining firms that were smuggling minerals outside the country in the disguise of reprocessing them.
President Mnangagwa has declared mining will play a major role in helping Zimbabwe achieve Middle-Income status by 2030 but areas of smuggling, under invoicing exports and corruption need to be addressed immediately.