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SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Canadian owned gold mine loses Zim licence

By Alex Bell
29 August 2011

The country’s leading foreign owned gold mine has had it mining licence withdrawn, becoming the first major casualty of the controversial indigensation scheme by ZANU PF.

The party’s empowerment Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, reportedly cancelled the operating licence last Friday, despite an “agreement” reached with Canada’s Caledonia owned Blanket Mine.

Blanket gold mine

According to South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper, which saw a copy of a letter written by Kasukuwere to Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, the mining licence had been cancelled because of Caledonia’s “failure to come up with acceptable indigenisation proposals.” The newspaper also reported on Saturday that the mine has now threatened to take legal action against Kasukuwere, arguing that he has “exceeded his legal powers.”

Caledonia had last week said it had resolved a ‘dispute’ with Zimbabwe over the ownership of Blanket mine, saying it would resubmit a new indigenisation plan. The company met Kasukuwere last Monday and “agreed on a process that will result in the production of a revised Indigenisation Implementation Plan for Blanket Mine that is compliant with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act,” said a joint statement.

“The plan will take into account the independently verified intrinsic value of the mineral resources, plant and equipment at the mine,” the statement said.

Foreign-owned mining companies have until the end of September to submit plans to Kasukuwere's ministry, detailing how they will ‘indigenise’ their shareholding under the Indigenisation Act. The Act forces the companies to ‘cede’ more than half of their shares. But the ZANU PF spearheaded campaign already has some analysts worried that the Act is nothing more than ‘legitimised looting’, with Kasukuwere threatening to take over the firms completely.

At an indigenisation indaba last month, Kasukuwere rejected a proposal by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines of a 26% takeover of mines, and vowed to “kick out” non-compliant firms, a threat he has voiced on numerous occasions.

His ministry indicated last week that it had rejected the empowerment proposals of 39 foreign mining companies and had issued letters warning them to provide “acceptable” proposals by the expiry of the two-week deadline. Kasukuwere has now issued a "14-day ultimatum" to mines and foreign banks, including Zimplats, Anglo Platinum and banks like Barclays and Stanbic.


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