Zimbabwe to scrap law that denies foreign platinum miners control of local operations

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The Mines Minister of Zimbabwe, Winston Chitando said the country will scrap a law that denies foreign platinum mining companies control of their operations in the country.

Foreign platinum and diamond miners have been restricted to only 49 percent ownership of their Zimbabwe operations by the black economic empowerment law introduced during Robert Mugabe’s rule.

The law was designed to increase black Zimbabweans’ stake in the mining sector, but foreign investors said its implementation was often murky and open to abuse.

Chitando, who was asked by Reuters to confirm a Bloomberg report that Zimbabwe, which holds the world’s second-largest known platinum reserves behind South Africa, will scrap the black empowerment rules for platinum, said “confirmed. It’s part of continued review of (the) Zimbabwe is open for business mantra”.

He also said dates on when the amendments will be brought to parliament would be announced soon.

Chitando, who is in Washington with Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube scouting for investment in Zimbabwe, did not respond when asked whether the changes will be extended to the diamond sector.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is keen to revive the mining sector after years of reticence from foreign investors during Mugabe’s rule.

Investor interest in Zimbabwe’s underexplored resources has recently improved. Australia’s Arcadia Resources is setting up a lithium mine while privately owned Karo Resources signed a $4.2 billion deal to set up a platinum mine and refinery and revived a Russian joint venture for a big platinum project near Harare.

Among existing operations, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum have assets in Zimbabwe while Sibanye-Stillwater has a joint venture mine with Implats.

Chitando said Zimbabwe attracted $8 billion into mining last year alone and that projects are expected to take off in the next three years.

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