ZAMBEZI Gas, a coal mining firm in Hwange, is breathing fire over its loss of 11 720 hectares of land allegedly to Makomo Resources under unclear circumstances.
Owned by locals, some of whom have operations outside the country, Zambezi Gas was established in 2003 but full operations commenced in March last year at it’s mine in Sinamatela, Hwange.
The firm started by producing 30 000 tonnes of coal but has since increased output to 50 000 tonnes a month.
But management is unhappy over the loss of 11 720ha of its special grant.
Shareholder and deputy managing director Mr Linos Masimura, recently told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that its special grant indicates 19 720 hectares but the company only has access to 8 000ha.
Mr Masimura said their special grant, number 4084, was gazetted a number of times, including on November 20, 2009 and August 4 last year.
“The licence was gazetted on 4th August 2017 for 25 years, stating 19 720ha but on the ground, we only have access to 8 000ha of the allocated land,” said Mr Masimura.
Zambezi Gas management suspect some officials in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development could have been involved in the underhand dealings considering that they allegedly arranged for some “investors” to partner them.
A meeting is said to have been convened in South Africa and the “investors” proposed to have a 60 percent stake in the business, while Zambezi Gas took the remainder.
However, Zambezi Gas directors thumbed their noses on the proposal, resulting in the meeting ending prematurely.
Mr Masimura claimed that the investors then returned in 2010 and started operating in the same grant on their own.
“There is now Makomo Resources (on our special grant). We do have all the correspondence from the Mining Affairs Board which clearly show that we have a special grant of 19 720ha.”
Asked if they would want to get back the other part of the grant, Mr Masimura said, “Yes, it’s an area that we have developed. It’s an area that no one would have gone to without exploration work.
“We submitted the results of our exploration to Geological Survey. No one would have known that there is coal on that specific position without the submissions we have done to the Geological Survey.
“From the licence which we have, they (Makomo) are operating within our grant, unless there is other documentation which we are not aware of.”
Makomo denies allegations
Makomo Resources director Mr Raymond Mutokonyi told The Sunday Mail Business last week that they did not grab land from Zambezi Gas.
Mr Mutokonyi said they applied for their special grant, like anyone else, and were turned away four times by the Geological Survey Department since part of the area they wanted encroached into Zambezi Gas’s claim.
Interestingly, Makomo’s mine is on 7 000ha of land, while Zambezi Gas claims it lost 11 720ha of its special grant.
“There is no basis at all (in Zambezi Gas’s allegations) because when that grant was awarded to us, the Geological Survey turned us away I think on four occasions saying we needed to ensure it was not encroaching into their land.
“We perfected that and our application passed on the fifth time. I know what I am talking about because I went to the Geological Survey Department personally. We are situated between Zambezi Gas and Hwange (Colliery Company Limited),” said Mr Mutokonyi.
A Geological Survey Department official, Mr Sithole, who is understood to have processed Makomo’s papers, declined to comment last week.
“I know what happened but I can’t talk to you. You would rather talk to the director but he is in Canada. Phone him on Monday (tomorrow),” said Mr Sithole.
Perm Sec to intervene
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Mr Munesushe Munodawafa told The Sunday Mail Business that he was not aware of issue.
Mr Munodawafa said encroaching into someone’s mining area is not allowed.
“Why have they not approached us (Zambezi Gas)?” queried Mr Munodawafa, adding that he didn’t have a report pertaining to the misunderstanding between Zambezi Gas and Makomo.
“(However) the law is very clear; you can’t encroach into somebody else’ territory and if somebody has encroached into your territory, you simply approach the Ministry and we issue an order for the other party to stop mining in the area.
“Under normal circumstances, that is what should happen. But I am not sure of the circumstances in this case, I need to check. I certainly and honestly have not received reports to that effect. Maybe it’s something that happened before I came here, I am not aware but I will also check with Makomo.”
Zambezi Gas has started a third ramp where it plans to push production to 250 000 tonnes a month by January next year.