85 firms ap­ply for min­ing li­cences

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business - Harare Bureau

EIGHTY five com­pa­nies have ap­plied for coal min­ing con­ces­sions in the Mata­bele­land North prov­ince, Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Wal­ter Chid­hakwa said.

But grant­ing li­cences to all com­pa­nies was not “doable” con­sid­er­ing the se­ri­ous im­pli­ca­tions on the en­vi­ron­ment and wildlife, Min­is­ter Chid­hakwa told del­e­gates at the Makomo Re­sources break­fast event to mark the com­pany’s 6th an­niver­sary yes­ter­day.

Yes­ter­day’s event was the sec­ond af­ter the coun­try’s largest coal min­ing com­pany held sim­i­lar cel­e­bra­tions in Hwange about three weeks ago.

“I have 85 ap­pli­ca­tions for coal min­ing in Mata­bele­land North Prov­ince. How do you man­age that…it’s not just con­ceiv­able,” said Min­is­ter Chid­hakwa. Mata­bele­land North, where Makomo Re­sources op­er­ates from is said to have the largest coal de­posits in the coun­try. Some of the de­posits are found in the Hwange Na­tional Park, Zim­babwe’s largest game re­serve cov­er­ing about 15 000 square kilo­me­tres.

Coal has been the dom­i­nant en­ergy min­eral for Zim­babwe.

While the Gov­ern­ment is­sued min­ing con­ces­sions to indige­nous peo­ple in the past few years, the ma­jor­ity of the con­ces­sions are ly­ing idle. The Gov­ern­ment once in­di­cated that it would re­pos­sess unproductive min­ing claims to pave way for new play­ers with ca­pac­ity of de­vel­op­ing them. How­ever, in­dus­try play­ers said most of the claims have re­mained un­ex­ploited due to fi­nan­cial con­straints to un­der­take ex­ploita­tion.

It is also ex­pected that some claim holders are keep­ing them for spec­u­la­tive pur­poses.

Ear­lier, Min­is­ter Chid­hwakwa had told the del­e­gates that the Gov­ern­ment was in the process of craft­ing reg­u­la­tions, which set the min­i­mum stan­dards of coal min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­trols, prod­uct qual­ity, min­i­mum qual­i­fi­ca­tions for mine man­agers and de­signs for un­der­ground and open cast mines.

The new reg­u­la­tions will be con­tained in the Statu­tory In­stru­ment to be pub­lished soon.

“The reg­u­la­tions arise from the recog­ni­tion that there is a depar­ture from the in­dus­try that we had yes­ter­day. Yes­ter­day we had one com­pany min­ing coal (Hwange Col­liery Com­pany Ltd); it sup­plied all seg­ments of the in­dus­try, but to­day, it does not hold the same mo­nop­oly. Yes­ter­day, one com­pany was the pro­ducer, was the op­er­a­tor, de­sign set­ter; reg­u­la­tor and set the pace of de­vel­op­ment of our coal in­dus­try.

“We will soon pub­lish the reg­u­la­tions that gov­ern the in­dus­try know­ing fully well that some years back we lost many peo­ple. So if the reg­u­la­tors do not play their role, peo­ple will die. Some­where along the lines we failed and the reg­u­la­tions will seek to cor­rect that.”

Min­is­ter Chid­hakwa said the new reg­u­la­tions would con­form to the best in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

On June 6, 1972, a meth­ane gas ex­plo­sion ripped through the Hwange Col­liery’s Ka­man­dama un­der­ground mine, trap­ping and sub­se­quently killing 427 min­ers, the worst mine ac­ci­dent in the his­tory of Zim­babwe. Lo­cal and for­eign res­cue mis­sions failed to save the lives.

The mine en­trance was even­tu­ally sealed to avoid poi­sonous gases es­cap­ing from the mines.

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