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CABINET has approved the restructuring of the Mines and Mining Development Ministry which will see four mining districts replaced by eight mining provinces, an official said. Mining commissioners, who headed the mining districts which in most cases, covered more than a province will also be replaced with directors who have technical expertise, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said yesterday.

The strategic move is aimed at creating capacity to enhance “transparency” and efficiency and accountability.

Under the new set up, the mining provinces will be headed by geologists instead of mining commissioners.

“Every province across the country has got minerals and therefore it must also have a provincial mining office,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

“These (provinces) will not be led by mining commissioners . . . because they do not have technical expertise.

“We are now looking at what institutional capacity do we require to drive the strategic plan.”

Addressing delegates at the 2014 Mine Entra Conference in Bulawayo yesterday, Minister Chidhakwa said the Cabinet had also approved strategies aimed at promoting value addition and beneficiation in the mining sector to grow the economy in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation.

He said the Cabinet agreed to prioritise value addition and beneficiation in the diamond sector, implementing the coal bed methane gas project in Lupane and promoting mineral beneficiation on resources such as iron ore, chrome, coal, and nickel.

“We cannot continue exporting our rough diamonds without value addition but to sell polished diamonds,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

He said the Government had already engaged potential foreign partners in value adding the country’s diamonds.

“We must have a foot print to say a certain percentage is going as polished diamonds a certain percentage is also going out as Zimbabwe jewellery,” he said. “Let me assure you that we have done a sufficient amount of work in that regard.”

The second area Government was prioritising was coal-bed methane gas project in Lupane.

“We have started pumping the gas out of Lupane, a true historical moment . . . the gas will be used for the production of energy and fertiliser. We also see the significant development of petrol-chemical industry as we purify the gas,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

Government will also prioritise value addition in other minerals such as chrome, coal and iron ore.

Minister Chidhakwa reiterated that the ban on raw chrome exports would not be lifted. He said the Government was also looking at restructuring his ministry as well as computerising systems to eliminate corruption as well as improving efficiency and mineral output.

The Mine Entra opened yesterday with g support from countries still interested in tapping Zimbabwe’s vast mineral resources, media reports say. South Africa, Germany, China, Belgium, Nigeria and Botswana are displaying their products at the exhibition, which runs until tomorrow.

Economic observers said high participation, the best in the history of the exhibition, was an “expression of confidence” in Zimbabwe’s mining sector.

Mr Bekithemba Nkomo, chairman of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair company that runs the exhibition, said 91 percent of capacity had been taken up by 185 exhibitors and inquiries were made up to the last minute. “To date, over 4 600 square meters of exhibition space has been sold, “said Mr Nkomo.

“Our international exhibitors will be showcasing chemicals, conveyors, drilling equipment, pumps, rubber, hoses and mineral-processing equipment. . . The exhibition has also attracted small-scale miners, including the Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Council for Sustainable Mining.

“We have also invited Women in Mining and other mining groups that have traditionally supported the expo.”

The 19th edition of the Mine Entra has the theme, “Innovation, Beneficiation, Growth”. Mr Nkomo said the exhibition showcased innovative technologies for beneficiation and how these could be leveraged to derive macro-economic benefits.

A Joint Suppliers and Producers Conference, which provides a discussion forum for mines as well as downstream and upstream industries in the value chain, is expected to take place today and will be presided over by Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha.

Despite Mine Entra being held against a backdrop of concern over the slowdown in economic activity, economists said interest in Zimbabwe’s mining sector was at a record high.

“There are more exhibitors than ever before and that is an expression of confidence in the mining industry,” Eric Bloch, a senior partner at HampE Bloch Consultancy, said.

Source : The Herald