Zimbabwe's Mines and Mining Development Minister, Amos Midzi, has  revealed that the government had  realised that some mining companies were sitting on huge undeveloped mining claims and using them for speculative purposes at the expense of (local) entrepreneurs who could make good use of the claims.

These people, whether individuals or companies, must develop their claims or lose them, cautioned Midzi.  

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe who faces long time rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai in next week's presidential election run-off reiterated yesterday that the government was steadfast in its quest to grab stakes in foreign companies.

We are going to implement the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act as soon as we win the presidential run-off set for this month, Mugabe said this week.  

His minister of Mines, Midzi accused some mining firms of speculative tendencies as they are not exploiting the mining claims that they currently hold. Many foreign-owned companies are sitting on vast claims, which they are using for speculative purposes, he said.

But mining executives who spoke to Mineweb said today that it was becoming increasingly difficult to begin new exploration projects with the current difficult operating environment prevailing.  Mining analysts say the announcement by the Mines minister is just a move to justfy the government's bid to grab the claims. 

We know what they want and we know that it is a plan that they have mulled to try and take over claims that were successfully acquired by these companies, said a chamber of mines official who did not want to be named.

The controversial Economic Indegenisation and Empowerment Act is a legislation - pushed through parliament by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF - to force the transfer of majority shareholding stakes amounting to 51 percent from all foreign owned companies to local black Zimbabweans. 

However, the MDC - which won a majority seats in Zimbabwe's next parliament - has vowed to reverse the widely condemned policies of Mugabe's government once they come into power.