Dispute hinders NRZ exploit SA mineral claims

Dr Joram Gumbo

Dr Joram Gumbo

Senior Business Reporter
THE exploitation of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) mineral claims in South Africa is being hampered by a dispute with another company over a double allocation of exploration rights, a Cabinet Minister has said.

NRZ owns a significant stake in Pan-African Minerals Development Company (PAMDC), which is jointly owned by the governments of Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

PAMDC was established in 2007 with a view to take over the mining concessions previously owned by ZIZA, a group that was jointly owned by the railway companies of Zimbabwe and Zambia. On Tuesday, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister, Dr Joram Gumbo, told Parliament:

“The company (PAMDC) is currently involved in negotiations with a potential partner on a limestone project and with another on a manganese project.

“Work on processing other claims has been hampered by a dispute with another company over a double allocation of exploration rights on a significant portion of PAMDC’s claims by the South African Department of Mineral Resources, which is in the courts in South Africa”.

The minister said PAMDC won the case at the Supreme Court and the other company (in South Africa) was now taking the matter to the Constitutional Court. In the past, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development had expressed concern that mineral claims held in South Africa were not being followed up. It has been stressed that the NRZ assets could provide an alternative source of the much-needed revenue for the railway entity.

In December 2016, PAMDC floated a tender seeking partners with financial capacity to undertake exploration activities on the mining claims. Meanwhile, the committee has also recommended that the NRZ should come up with an inventory of all its properties and use some of the properties to liquidate its debts.

“NRZ does not own assets outside Zimbabwe though the NRZ Pension Fund and Emerged Railway Property (ERP) do. An inventory has been done for all locally held properties.

“NRZ will seek to operate joint venture partnerships with suitable partners to unlock the value of some of the assets as opposed to disposing of the same,” said Dr Gumbo.

“The organisation recently acquired a real estate management software and is transferring the data base of all its properties into the new system.”

In 2017, NRZ and the Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)/Transnet Consortium signed a $400 million deal aimed at recapitalizing the railways company. And under the DIDG/Transnet interim arrangement, NRZ is leasing 13 locomotives, 200 wagons and 34 passenger coaches. Part of the equipment was received by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on behalf of NRZ last month. It is envisaged that the equipment will enable the NRZ to move an additional 100 000 tonnes of cargo per month and boost monthly revenues to $1.1 million. Last year, the parastatal moved 3.1 million tonnes up from 2.9 million tonnes. In the 1990s, the strategic logistics firm was moving 18 million tonnes of freight per year.

@okazunga