The National Gemstone Miners Association says that the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill should not classify lithium and copper as strategic minerals saying the resources are easy to mine hence locals should be granted rights to mine them.
Speaking during the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development public hearings held in the capital yesterday, National Gemstone Miners Association Chairperson Walter Kawara, said foreigners should only come through for the processing of the minerals.
“We have copper and lithium everywhere in this country and it will be a disadvantage to communities if these minerals are classified as strategic because what it means is that the communities will be relocated from the minerals they should benefit from only for a foreigner to enjoy.
” We want locals to be able to mine lithium and copper anyhow because these minerals are easy to mine, foreigners can therefore come for processing,” he said.
Commenting on the proceedings of the hearing, Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development Chairman Edmond Mkaratigwa said there is a need for raising the bar in terms of the entry point threshold for foreign investors to venture into Zimbabwean mining.
“There is a strong view that while we have opened the sector for international investors to participate in our local market, we should actually raise the bar in terms of the entry point, the threshold for any international player to come and participate in mining.
“They should not restrict themselves, for example to a standard mining block, maybe they should be given more than five blocks and they should be employing a minimum of 500, employees, so that they contribute significantly to our economy.
“They should be credible and pay taxes. The next item of discussion that came out to be topical is corporate social responsibility (CSR). What participants want to see is good infrastructure development for example roads, clinics, and other support, infrastructure in our communities.
“Not only that is to be rendered by mining houses so much that the communities are going to give social license to any contribution by a foreigner,” he said.
He added that there is a need for laws that will intensify activities in the mining sector to manage the distribution of resources.
“There are so many issues, I cannot finish them, but what I must say is we need to see if a strong law is being enacted at the moment, a law that will defend, a law that will intensify the mining sector, a law that will regulate the mining sector, a law that will ensure that we manage and distribute equitably our resources that we are endowed with as a country and to wrap it up as an issue we encourage conversations to allow the participation of employees in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development right now.
“The restriction is that they are not allowed to participate in any mining activities. They should not own any mining claims and you are saying as we amend this law, we also want to draw an analogy from what other ministry officials, for example, in the agricultural sector are allowed to do, to what extent they own land for agricultural purposes while they are involved in regulating that sector and those in the midst of the environment, for example, who get involved in tourism and safari operations.
“So we are saying our law should be fair but we look at the views that are coming from the public not from us as a committee,” he said.
A National Social Security Authority representative said the registration criteria should consider all statutes to address or manage disasters that happen in the mines.
Some participants felt that the Bill should speak to environmental issues and how mining will benefit communities, including compensations and repatriations.