Govt to find new in­vestors for nine mines

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

MIN­IS­TER of Min­ing Le­bo­hang Thotanyana says the Min­ing Board would soon call for new in­vestors to take over nine mines that were not be­ing utilised. In an in­ter­view with Le­sotho Times this week, the min­is­ter said the re­vo­ca­tion of nine prospect­ing li­cences was near­ing com­ple­tion, with two hold­ers hav­ing al­ready sur­ren­dered them af­ter fail­ing to get their ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­i­ties off the ground. Mr Thotanyana said seven of the nine had, how­ever, ap­pealed the de­ci­sion to can­cel their li­censes to the Min­ing Board.

“We are cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing the re­vo­ca­tion process af­ter some of the min­ing com­pa­nies ap­pealed the de­ci­sion. I have sent their cases back to the Min­ing Board. We are do­ing this to give them a fair hear­ing in or­der to de­ter­mine whether they can con­tinue or not,” he said.

This was af­ter the min­istry as­sessed all the 19 min­ing com­pa­nies hold­ing prospect­ing li­censes in the coun­try to as­cer­tain the progress they were mak­ing and to award the li­censes to com­pa­nies that would demon­strate their ca­pac­ity to prospect.

“The study re­vealed that very lit­tle progress was be­ing made. It was then pre­sented to the new Min­ing Board which was ap­pointed in Jan- uary this year and has since rec­om­mended the can­cel­la­tion of li­censes for com­pa­nies that are not prospect­ing,” said Mr Thotanyana.

“We have re­voked a to­tal of nine prospect­ing li­censes which in­clude two that were sur­ren­dered. These prospect­ing li­censes were re­voked be­cause the min­ing com­pa­nies hold­ing them could not carry out the in­tended op­er­a­tions due to a lack of ca­pac­ity.”

He said the min­ing com­pa­nies had not sub­mit­ted progress reports with some not even based at the lo­ca­tions they claimed to be their of­fices as re­quired by the law.

“The law is based on the prin­ci­ple of use it or lose it. We can­not al­low peo­ple to hold on to prospect­ing li­censes un­der false pre­tences of be­ing in­vestors when they don’t have

the req­ui­site fi­nan­cial re­sources or tech­ni­cal skills. As a re­sult, they are hold­ing the en­tire na­tion to ran­som. It can­not hap­pen,” the min­is­ter de­clared.

He said as soon as the process of can­celling the li­censes was com­pleted, the Min­ing Board would de­clare the sites open again and then call for new in­vestors to takeover.

“We re­ally need se­ri­ous in­vestors who will not hold the coun­try back as were are grap­pling with high lev­els of unem­ploy­ment we need to ad­dress.”

Mean­while, the govern­ment’s search for an in­vestor to take over Mothae Mine has been nar­rowed to two min­ing com­pa­nies.

Mr Thotanyana said they short­listed the firms from five ap­pli­ca­tions that were re­ceived.

“We are hop­ing to make an an­nounce­ment on who has been awarded a stake in the mine in two weeks’ time,” he added.

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