Legislators from mining communities say the recently gazetted fees will push out indigenous players from the sector whilst promoting illegal gold panning in their areas.Governmentâ€™s move to increase mining fees has caused an outcry from various stakeholders especially small-scale miners as well as legislators who say the high charges will put them out of business while encouraging illegal panning.
Mazowe South Legislator, Cde Richard Chirongwe says the new mining fees are retrogressive and will discourage local entrepreneurs to venture into the formerly foreign dominated mining sector.
â€œWe already have a problem of illegal gold panning which is destroying the environment and with these latest fees, our people are being pushed out of the mining sector and this will eventually promote fronting which we are trying to fight against,â€ he said.
For Chakari legislator Cde Zacharias Ziyambi whose constituency has a challenge of gold planning, the latest development goes against the spirit of indigenisation.
Cde Ziyambi said: â€œWe are always saying the local people should be in control of their mineral wealth and what has happened goes against it. We are worried.â€
Meanwhile, government says the fee increase is aimed at discouraging and making it costly to hold a claim for speculative purposes.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu says these are part of comprehensive measures to ensure transparency and accountability in the mining sector.
â€œWe are introducing reforms in the mining sector to bring sanity and the new mining fees are part of what is going to force those holding on to claims to surrender them because it will be costly to hold on to them,â€ said Dr Mpofu.
Government last month increased mining fees in some instances by 5 000% through Statutory Instrument 11 of 2012.
Registration of diamond claims has increased from US$1 million to US$5 million while a gold buying licence now attracts US$100 000, up from US$20 000.
Application fees for prospective coal investors were increased from US$5 000 to US$100 000 while registration or renewal fee was set at US$500 000.