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FILE - A worker is pictured at a mine in Bindura town, ZImbabwe, Feb. 7, 2015.

Tiisetso Motsoeneng

By Tiisetso Motsoeneng

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe may withdraw mining rights from companies that take too long to dig for minerals, the deputy mines minister said on Wednesday, part of efforts to lift output in a sector vital to the country’s economic revival.

Zimbabwe sits on the second-largest known platinum deposits after neighbouring South Africa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa is keen to revive mining after years of reticence by foreign investors during the Robert Mugabe administration.

Speaking to investors and executives at a mining conference in Johannesburg, Polite Kambamura said details of the so-called “use it or lose it” approach to mining policy would be made available in due course.

“We will be calling owners of such mineral resources to come forward and show cause why they are not mining,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.

“If we’re not satisfied with their explanation or mining plans, then we will kindly ask them to give that resource back to the government.”

As part of plans to boost mining export revenues to $12 billion a year as of 2023 from $3 billion now, Kambamura also said the country was putting policies in place to make it easier for mining companies to boost production, while urging investors to restart mines that closed in periods of political upheaval.

Last month, Zimbabwe said it would scrap the controversial indigenisation law under which foreign companies are restricted to only 49 percent of their Zimbabwean operations.

Zimbabwe, which counts South Africa’s Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum among its mining investors, is also in talks with an industry body, the Chamber of Mines, about reviewing and streamlining mining taxes.

“The ministry is looking at the whole array of taxes like royalties etc to streamline them and establish a more competitive regime,” Betirai Manhando, president of the Chamber of Mines, said at the same conference.

MIDDLE-INCOME ECONOMY

About a year ago, Mnangagwa won the first election since the removal of Mugabe in 2017, and has laid out an economic transformation strategy that his government hopes will turn the country into a middle-income economy by 2030.

Though investors at the conference did not dispute the prospect of lucrative returns from the country’s underdeveloped mining, tourism and agricultural industries, they were worried about shortages of foreign currency.

“Currency convertibility is a big issue for investors,” said Richard Tait, a director at Harare-based private equity outfit Mangwana Capital - which is trying to raise $150 million for investments in Zimbabwe.

Mangwana’s investments that mainly earn foreign currency should deliver returns of more than 20 percent, Tait told Reuters.

Zimbabwe ditched a discredited 1:1 dollar peg for its dollar-surrogate bond notes and electronic dollars on Feb. 20, merging them into a transitional currency called the RTGS dollar. (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Dale Hudson and Kirsten Donovan)

FILE - A woman prepares sorghum for food at her home in drought-hit Masvingo, Zimbabwe, June 1,2016.

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe appealed on Tuesday for $613 million in aid from local and foreign donors to cover food imports and help with a humanitarian crisis after a severe drought and a cyclone that battered the east of the country.

An El Nino-induced drought has wilted crops across Zimbabwe and left about a third of its 15 million people in need of food assistance, according to a U.N. agency.

The situation was worsened when Zimbabwe, along with Mozambique and Malawi, were last month battered by Cyclone Idai, leaving hundreds of thousands needing food, water and shelter.

An appeal document given to reporters by the ministry of information showed the government is seeking about $300 million in aid for food while the rest would fund emergency shelters, logistics and telecommunications among other needs.

Hundreds of people have died in Mozambique and Malawi and the death toll in Zimbabwe was now 344.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the cabinet had hiked the maize price paid to farmers by 86 percent to $232 a tonne and maintained a subsidy for millers in a bid to keep the price of the staple maize meal down.

In February, Zimbabwe scrapped a 1:1 peg between the U.S. dollar and the bond notes and electronic dollars it introduced to compensate for its hard currency shortage, merging the surrogate currencies into the RTGS dollar.

Mutsvangwa said farmers would be paid 726 RTGS dollars ($232), up from 390 RTGS dollars.

The RTGS dollar was trading at 3.12 to the U.S. dollar on Tuesday on the bank market and at 4.4 on the black market.

The government is the sole buyer and seller of maize in Zimbabwe through the state-owned Grain Marketing Board. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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