10 years jail for riverbed min­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Zva­maida Mur­wira

PER­SONS con­duct­ing riverbed min­ing now risk a 10 year im­pris­on­ment term and the State would also con­fis­cate their equip­ment.

This is con­tained in the Mines and Min­er­als Amend­ment Bill. The Bill was gazetted last week. It ap­plies the use it or lose it prin­ci­ple on peo­ple hold­ing claims for spec­u­la­tive pur­poses.

Mines and Min­ing Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Wal­ter Chid­hakwa is ex­pected to ta­ble the Bill in Par­lia­ment for de­bate soon.

While the Bill seeks to tighten sev­eral gaps that had been ob­served in the min­ing sec­tor, the ma­jor high­light would be the crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of river bed min­ing which has been ram­pant across the coun­try.

It was most pro­nounced in Ma­zowe and Pen­ha­longa were dams were at risk of sil­ta­tion.

Clause 391A pro­vides as fol­lows “(1) Sub­ject to sub­sec­tions (3) and (4) no per­son shall un­der­take any min­ing op­er­a­tions on any riverbed ex­cept where such per­sons are part of a joint ven­ture part­ner­ship with Gov­ern­ment to do so. (2) Any per­son who con­tra­venes sub­sec­tion (1) shall be guilty of an of­fence and li­able (a) if there are no spe­cial cir­cum­stances in the par­tic­u­lar case, and the case in­volves strate­gic min­er­als, to im­pris­on­ment for a pe­riod of not less than five years or more than 10 years.”

The Bill stip­u­lates that only the Gov­ern­ment would re­serve the right to carry out riverbed min­ing should that be nec­es­sary.

“Where the court is sat­is­fied, on a bal­ance of prob­a­bil­i­ties, the prop­erty is the pro­ceeds from the com­mis­sion of an of­fence the court shall or­der that it be con­fis­cated,” reads Clause 391E(3) of the Bill.

The pro­posed law em­pow­ers the Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for min­ing to can­cel min­ing rights if op­er­a­tions failed to com­mence within a rea­son­able pe­riod or the miner fails to de­clare out­put. The min­ing rights can also be can­celled if the miner pro­vides false re­turns. “The Min­is­ter may do ei­ther or both of the fol­low­ing (a) by writ­ten no­tice served on the miner con­cerned, no­tify the miner con­cerned of his or her in­ten­tion to can­cel his or her rights in re­la­tion to the min­ing lo­ca­tion con­cerned, and call on the miner to show cause, within such rea­son­able pe­riod as may be spec­i­fied in the no­tice, why such rights should not be can­celled (b) di­rect any per­son em­ployed in his or her Min­istry to con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the na­ture and ex­tent of any min­ing op­er­a­tions that have been con­ducted on the min­ing lo­ca­tion con­cerned,” reads the Bill.

Min­ers would be re­quired to make cer­tain pay­ments to lo­cal author­i­ties while child labour would be out­lawed. Clause 70 gives prece­dence to min­ing over farm­ing. “Sub­ject to sec­tion 180(12) the owner or the oc­cu­pier of land on which reg­is­tered min­ing lo­ca­tion is si­t­u­ated shall re­tain the right to graze stock upon or cul­ti­vate the sur­face of such lo­ca­tion in so far as such graz­ing or cul­ti­va­tion does not in­ter­fere with proper work­ing of the lo­ca­tion for min­ing pur­poses,” reads the Bill.

e Bill lists 19 min­er­als that are con­sid­ered as strate­gic on ac­count of their im­por­tance to the eco­nomic, so­cial, in­dus­trial and se­cu­rity devel­op­ment of the coun­try.

The min­er­als are cok­ing coal, nat­u­ral gas or coal bed meth­ane, iron ore, ura­nium, chrome, plat­inum group met­als, phos­phate ore, beryl­lium, lithium, tin, tan­ta­lite, rare earths el­e­ments, nat­u­ral graphite, mag­ne­site, tung­sten, an­ti­mony, man­ganese, fluorspar and cae­sium.

The port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on Mines and Min­ing Devel­op­ment is ex­pected to con­duct pub­lic hear­ings to get peo­ple’s views while the Par­lia­men­tary Le­gal Com­mit­tee would also study it to es­tab­lish whether it is con­sis­tent with the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Min­is­ter Wal­ter Chid­hakwa

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