Zimbabwean Official: No Cancellation of Mining Licenses

Posted September 15th, 2011 at 9:18 am (UTC-5)
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A Zimbabwean official says the government does not intend to cancel mining licenses, a move that was threatened to firms that did not give a majority stake to black Zimbabweans.

Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu told an industry forum that negotiations are underway with some mining firms, but no licenses have been canceled.

Zimbabwe's minister for indigenization and black empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, said at the forum the government has made much progress with the mining industry.

At issue is a 2008 law requiring all foreign-owned companies to turn over at least 51 percent of their shares to black Zimbabweans.

Last week, Kasukuwere accused South African-controlled Zimplats of failing to come up with a plan to comply with the law, and said the government was moving to cancel its operating license.

If its license is suspended, Zimplats would be the first major mining company forced to stop operating under the indigenization law.

Critics have said the mining regulation will scare away investors and destroy the country's mining industry.

Food production in Zimbabwe suffered a steep fall after President Robert Mugabe and his supporters began seizing white-owned commercial farms in 2000 for transfer to blacks.