Sharon Chiware, Midlands Reporter
MINERS in the Midlands province have requested Government to withdraw all applications made by prospective chrome miners and those that have been allocated to renounce claims to pave way for a fresh re-allocating exercise.
Recently, Zimasco surrendered 22 000 hectares of land to Government, which has over 800 chrome claims while ZimAlloys ceded 60 percent of 39 175 hectares of ground. The two firms owned over 80 percent of the country’s chrome claims.
The miners, who claim the initial exercise sidelined them, say fresh re-allocation would ensure that there is transparency and fairness.
A report on chrome mining claim allocations delivered by a mining official sparked debate during the Zanu-PF Midlands Provincial Coordinating Committee (PCC) meeting on Saturday.
In his report during the meeting, provincial mining commissioner, Engineer Malcom Mazemo, said a process to allocate claims that were ceded to Government by Zimasco had started.
He reported that seven chrome smelting companies, some of them foreign-owned and some coming from outside Midlands, had successfully applied for claims and their applications had been sent to the ministry’s head office in Harare for consideration.
“I would like to inform you that Portnex a South African company, Nelson Holdings from Gweru, Sunhill Mining from Guruve, Afrochin from Mashonaland West, Jodol from Harare, Mitiyago and Jinan, a Chinese company, have applied for the claims in Midlands province. We have forwarded them to Harare for considerations,” he told the gathering.
This prompted a debate among politicians and miners who demanded that all the applications be withdrawn and the claims be reallocated to small scale miners from Midlands province.
Gokwe-Kana legislator Owen Ncube said Government should prioritise youths and women as part of the empowerment programme and enable a wider inclusion of locals in the sector.
“Most of these companies are smelters some of whom are foreign-owned. While we are very supportive of development and coming of investors to the country, we would want our youths and women to be allocated claims so that they would sell chrome ore to these smelters for value addition. By so doing we create employment and also empower our youths and women,” he said.
In response, Midlands Minister of State Jason Machaya said he was seized with the matter and the exercise was now being coordinated by his office and the Mines and Mining Development Ministry.
“We received the same report that most local small scale chrome miners were being sidelined. We are re-doing the exercise,” he said.