HARARE – Government has started re-distributing idle chrome mines surrendered by the Kwekwe-based Zimbabwe Iron and Smelting Company (Zimasco) amid indications that illegal miners who had occupied them would be evicted.
Deputy Mines minister, Fred Moyo, on Wednesday said his ministry — which is re-allocating about 21 170 hectares (ha) of land that once belonged to the country’s biggest chrome producer to new smelters and small-scale miners — started the re-distribution process early this week.
“…The distribution is only starting today (Wednesday) going forward, but those who are on the claims because they had tributes and were already working there, will stay on the ground.
“Those who have positioned themselves, unofficially, will be removed from the ground that they have occupied illegally…There are people who are on the ground now because they were already working on claims. They will stay on those claims until we officially give them their certificates,” he told the National Assembly.
This was in response to Zvishavane-Ngezi constituency Member of Parliament, John Holder, who had informed the house of “unscrupulous” payments being demanded on the ground from the claim holders.
“…What I want to find out is, payments are being claimed by the people who claim to be from the ministry of Mines, is it legal?”
“Are these people that are on the ground collecting money from people from the ministry of Mines or they are unscrupulous people that have opened offices and are asking individuals to pay for these claims? There is going to be disaster as far as I see it,” Holder said.
In response, the junior minister said government will institute investigations into the goings-on at the former Zimasco claims.
He said it was the responsibility of his ministry to allocate the claims and not anyone else outside their head office in Harare.
“Anybody who is being given claims on the ground at provinces — paying money, it is illegal and I am not sure who is doing it… Nobody should be paying for claims from the provinces,” he said.
In re-distributing the claims, 5 746 ha will go to the Zimbabwe Geological Survey while 7 000ha will go towards medium scale beneficiation plants and new smelters.
The minister is on record saying small-scale miners, who include individuals, special interest groups such as war veterans, women and the youths will receive 10 000ha to promote empowerment of marginalised groups and indigenisation.
Government is also planning to give certificates of occupation to some of the present claim holders.
The Mines ministry is presently in talks with the Zimbabwe Allows Limited (ZimAlloys) —which presently holds a total of 39 175 ha of ground — for the former Anglo-American subsidiary to submit 22 000ha for re-distribution to small-scale miners.
Following the release of chrome mining claims by Zimasco to government, and the subsequent gazetting of the entire Great Dyke as a Reserved Area, chrome mining is now accessed by means of special grants.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s 2017 chrome output is anticipated to improve as the country’s two biggest chrome miners — ZimAlloys and Zimasco —work on their slug dumps.
The increase in output will also be driven by the temporary lifting of a ban on exportation of raw chrome.
Last year, Zimbabwe exported 140 000 tonnes of high carbon ferrochrome, earning the country $115 million while 284 943 tonnes of raw chrome were grossed $31 million.