New twist to coal field feud
THE coal claims feud pitting Zambezi Gas and Makomo Resources has taken a new twist, amid reports that there may have been an “error” in the former’s special grant. Zambezi Gas says its special grant gives it 19 720 hectares, and accuses Zimbabwe’s biggest coal miner by output, Makomo, of clandestinely annexing over 11 720ha of its claims.
Investigations by The Sunday Mail Business show the special grant contains two different hectarages.
An official with the Mining Affairs Board, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the first page of Zambezi Gas’s special grant indicated the firm had been apportioned 19 720ha.
However, the second page of the special grant shows the company was allocated claims measuring 8 644ha. The second figure is corroborated by the map attached to the special grant.
It is yet to be established how this happened.
“The first page of their special grant is written 19 720ha but on the second page it is indicated 8 644ha. The map attached to their special grant is also in sync with what is on page 2. The figure of 19 720ha on page one is just aloof, it has no support,” said the source.
Zambezi Gas deputy MD and shareholder Mr Linos Masimura could not be reached for comment last week over the new revelations.
Makomo Resources director Mr Raymond Mutokonyi, insisted it was “nonsensical” that they grabbed part of Zambezi Gas’s claims.
“We made an application for 7 000 hectares of coal claims, and duly got what we had applied for,” said Mr Mutokonyi.
“We were called for a meeting by the Mining Affairs Board to make our presentation and that is when it was found out that our special grant was overlapping into a small portion of both Hwange Colliery Company and Zambezi Gas.
“The Mining Affairs Board told us to go and work on it until it no longer encroached onto other companies’ claims, and the application was granted at the third time of presentation.”
The Mining Affairs Board is an independent body comprising miners.
Once Makomo rectified the anomaly, the Mining Affairs Board recommended to the then President, Mr Robert Mugabe, to approve the special grant.
Mr Mugabe signed the special grant and handed it to Makomo, with the firm starting operations on the ground in 2010.
Zambezi Gas had obtained its special grant in 2003 and started mining last year.
Mr Mutokonyi said if indeed Zambezi Gas had been prejudiced, “why has it taken them about 14 years to report the issue?”
“There is no issue there. When I went to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, they were actually surprised that Zambezi Gas had not lodged a formal complaint,” said Mr Mutokonyi.
It understood Zambezi Gas wrote to the Mines Ministry about two months ago raising its concerns. At one point, Makomo Resources appeared to be heading towards a deal with Zambezi Gas to partner in exploiting the latter’s claims.
As negotiations proceeded, amid indications Zambezi Gas wanted to sell 75 percent of the project, Makomo was notified that its application had succeeded and the talks ended.