April 18, 2017 / 1:30 PM / 3 months ago

Zimbabwe's Mugabe impatient over pace of mining reform

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FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 21, 2017.Philimon Bulawayo

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's mining industry needs to be "reorganised" so that it contributes more towards the African country's economy, President Robert Mugabe said on Tuesday.

Although Mugabe did not give details on what form the transformation would take, his government has, in recent years, pressured mining firms to transfer majority stakes to black ownership under a 2008 law and to cede some claims.

"There is a lot of work which is going on in that sector, not least the reorganisation whose completion we impatiently await," Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence in 1980, told thousands at a rally to mark the southern African country's 37th independence anniversary in a Harare stadium.

Zimbabwe, where mining generates more than 50 percent of export earnings, holds significant mineral deposits and the world's top two platinum producers, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum, have operations there.

Mining has also overtaken agriculture as the leading provider of employment, after the Mugabe government started seizing white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks in 2000.

The government has also leaned on producers to invest in local refinery facilities. Platinum miners currently ship their matte to South Africa for processing.

While Mugabe's government has signalled plans to relax the ownership rules for existing mines, it has shifted its focus to seizing land owned by foreign mines, which it claims to be idle.

"Much is expected from this important sector. It must play its part towards this overall development vision we have," Mugabe said.

Reporting by Nelson Banya; editing by Alexander Smith

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