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Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Harare, July, 20 2011. (PHILIMON BULAWAYO/REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO/REUTERS)
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses supporters in Harare, July, 20 2011. (PHILIMON BULAWAYO/REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO/REUTERS)

Zimbabwe rejects 175 ownership proposals Add to ...

Zimbabwe has rejected all 175 local ownership proposals it received from foreign mining companies and will kick out any firms that don't meet a September deadline on majority black ownership, the empowerment minister said on Wednesday.

Under the controversial law, foreign miners operating in Zimbabwe must sell a majority stake to local black investors or face losing their assets.

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The government estimates the mining sector will need $6-billion over five years, but has struggled to attract investors out off by an uncertain investment climate and unclear legislation.

"We have received 175 proposals from mining companies and we've turned down all of them. The proposals were that 26 per cent would be done through social credits and 25 per cent direct equity," Saviour Kasukuwere, the Minister for Indigenization and Economic Empowerment told a conference in Harare.

"By the end of September, any mining company that doesn't comply with the law, we'll kick them out. We'll ask them to hand over their assets to government."

Social credits relate to points awarded to firms for investing in infrastructure and development projects such as roads, schools and hospitals.

Mr. Kasukuwere's comments could be a sign the government is unwilling to settle for anything less than majority direct ownership by locals.

However, one senior executive at a mining firm operating in Zimbabwe said Mr. Kasukuwere's comments are unlikely to reflect final government policy.

"I am absolutely confident the thing will change, this is posturing by Saviour Kasukuwere," said the executive, who declined to be identified.

Mineral-rich Zimbabwe has the world's largest-known platinum reserves after neighbouring South Africa.

Foreign miners operating there include Zimplats Holdings, a unit of Impala Platinum, global mining giant Rio Tinto and Anglo Platinum.

It also has gold, diamonds, ferrochrome, coal and iron ore reserves but the mining sector is starved of capital after years of decline.

Mr. Kasukuwere had told Reuters that Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government would not pay any money for the mining stakes, and would base any payment negotiations on the state's ownership of the country's untapped mineral wealth.

The local ownership rule became a law in 2008. Critics have said it will hurt the country's prospects for economic recovery.

Zimbabwe's coalition government, formed by bitter foes President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is divided over the law.

Mr. Tsvangirai has called the local ownership drive "looting and plunder by a greedy elite."

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