Zimplats says it has agreed to give up 28 000 hectares of land, more than half of its idle mining claims to government, ending a five-year row but analysts say the latest land grab could spook foreign investors.
President Robert Mugabe last year approached the courts seeking to compel the Implats subsidiary to cede its unused mining claims to government for redistribution to new players in the sector despite failing to utilise previously acquired land.
It is not clear if the Administrative Court, which was hearing the case, passed judgment.
In 2006, Zimplats, the country’s biggest mining business gave up ground covering 51 million ounces (36 percent of its total resource) out of a total 141 million ounce resource.
Chief executive Alex Mhembere said that Zimplats “was on the same page with government”.
“In terms of the lease we have agreed that we will give government the land. What is outstanding is just the administrative processes on how that transaction will be consummated,” he said.
“We are not pressing on any onerous conditions we are working with government but for there to be any transfer of that asset, we will have to go through the normal processes of going through the mining affairs board.”
Asked if Zimplats would be expecting any compensation Mhembere said: “We are not looking at it at this stage, we will look at it at a later point in time.”
Under its ‘use it or lose it’ policy, government has recently moved to expropriate a combined 42 000 hectares from the country’s two largest ferrochrome producers – Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company and Zimbabwe Alloys, saying it needs to open the sector up to new players.
However, the Zimplats land grab raises questions about the government’s commitments to investment agreements. – The Source