Zimbabwe to Take Controlling Stake in Mines

Source:

"Government setting up a sovereign wealth fund to own 51% stakes of mining companies."

Zimbabwe will effectively nationalize half of the country's key resources sector by setting up a sovereign wealth fund to own 51% stakes of mining companies, a government minister said on Wednesday.

Saviour Kasukuwere, minister of youth empowerment and indigenization, said the government in the resource-rich country would publish guidelines on local mine ownership regulations on Friday and the rules would take effect within a week.

Analysts said impoverished Zimbabwe does not have the money to buy controlling stakes but is likely using the threat to force global mining giants to the bargaining table so the country with the world's second-largest platinum reserves can receive more money from its mineral riches.

The move is likely to discourage foreign investment and will hit foreign miners in the state including AngloPlat and Impala Platinum, the world's largest and second largest platinum producers, and Rio Tinto, which runs a diamond mine in the country.

"In the mining sector specifically, we have been getting a raw deal all this time with companies taking money out of the country," Kasukuwere said, without offering details of the plan.

Kasukuwere said earnings from mineral exports reached $1.7 billion in 2010, about 30% of the country's estimated yearly GDP, but that mining companies had only paid $4 million in taxes to the government.

"The signal that they are sending is that 'we can change anything in this country and it can impact on investment at any time'," said Claude Kabemba, director of Southern Africa Resource Watch.

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