Midlands Bureau — GOVERNMENT is working on removing investment bottlenecks caused by the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which scared away potential and existing investors, the President has said. The move seeks to create a conducive environment in line with ease of doing business reforms to transform the country into an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
Speaking during the commissioning a new $62 million platinum smelting plant at Unki Mines in Shurugwi, President Mnangagwa said Government was liberalising investment policies, especially in the mining sector.
He said contentious shareholding restrictions will be removed, while a raft of new laws will be crafted to restore investor confidence and help the country's modernisation and industrialisation agenda.
"While in our briefing, Unki Mines management alluded to the fact that indigenisation was putting some bottlenecks on shareholding and our Government had not included platinum and diamonds on our new indigenisation policy," said President Mnangagwa.
"Yes, it's true we did not include these minerals in our initial policy changes, but we later included both platinum and diamonds in October last year and probably the Unki Mines management missed this."
President Mnangagwa said Government realised in October last year that platinum and diamonds were also affected by the indigenisation policy which was being changed to establish a "favourable climate".
He said the Government wants free, fair partnerships on the outcomes of negotiations between investors and other local partners.
"We will continue to implement a raft of measures and reforms including reducing the cost of business in our country.
"This includes creating a more favourable investment climate and removing bottlenecks that undermine the inflows of capital investment."
The President said the commissioning of the new smelting plant at Unki Mines was a step in the right direction.
In the near future, the country intends to invest in projects that will help add value to its minerals and stop exporting raw minerals.
Said President Mnangagwa: "Let's do our best to beneficiate and value add all our minerals. Now I am happy that with regard to platinum, we have taken the steps.
"It is necessary that we do that across the board. With regards to diamonds, we still export 90 percent of our diamonds unprocessed. This should stop going forward. We must value add our diamonds. The same with chrome. We still export lumpy chrome.
"Again, my Government administration is going to require the beneficiation of that mineral and time is coming when we will not export any lumpy chrome."
The Anglo American conglomerate decision to set up a $62 million smelting plant at Unki Mines, the President said, was a clear indication that investors were confident of the new administration and its business thrust.
"I commend Anglo American Platinum Ltd through Unki Mines for their investment in this smelting plant. This demonstrates their continued confidence in our country's investment climate.
"I exhort companies in other sectors of mining industries to emulate this achievement. We are determined to increase our visibility and to be among the leading producers of platinum in the world.
"The commissioning of this plant will progress our efforts in this endeavour to beneficiate and value add our minerals. The impact of this plant will go beyond mineral extraction and processing, extending to many other sectors such as transport construction equipment construction among others," he said.
In May last year, Government signed an agreement with Kelltech, an Australian firm, which would see the construction of a $300 million platinum refinery.
Kelltech will form a joint venture company with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe has capacity to produce and supply the world with the most sought-after minerals if it takes advantage of its natural resources and beneficiates.
He said mining sector investors would be supported by Government. Government wants miners to construct more smelters and refining plants.
The President interacted with renowned personalities in the chromium value chain who attended the International Chrome Development Association's conference in Victoria Falls last week.
He said he challenged delegates and potential investors to consider investing in the country, leveraging on Zimbabwe's vast mineral deposits.
President Mnangagwa also said Government was investing in the energy and water sectors to support the mining industry since they are key enablers.
"Because of climate change, we are aware that we can longer fully depend on hydro-electricity. We have to diversify. Fortunately, Zimbabwe is endowed with coal hence the expansion of the Hwange Thermal Power Station, which is on schedule and will bring onto the national grid an extra 600 megawatts when complete," he said.