Zimbabwe has set a Tuesday deadline for the country’s second largest ferrochrome producer Zimbabwe Alloys to hand over half its chrome claims or risk having them seized, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
The Southern African nation holds the world’s second largest deposits of chrome, which is smelted to produce ferrochrome, a raw material used in the making of stainless steel.
Zimbabwe’s mines minister last year asked Zimasco, a unit of China’s Sinosteel and Zimbabwe Alloys (ZimAlloys), which owned 80 percent of all chrome mining claims, to release some ground for distribution to new investors.
Sinosteel’s Zimasco said in April it had ceded half its mining claims to the government.
Francis Gudyanga, a senior official in the mines ministry, said the government wanted to redistribute ZimAlloys claims to new firms as per rules it issued in October and accused the company of failing to heed the demands.
“Despite repeated efforts to have a common understanding you have remained evasive with regards to this matter,” Gudyanga said in a letter dated May 30 addressed to the company previously owned by Anglo American until 2005.
“Therefore we will be giving you up to the 7th of June 2016 to present the claims to be handed over to the Ministry or risk the claims being acquired at our discretion or without notice.”
Gudyanga could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
ZimAlloys acting chief executive Kudakwashe Mahobele confirmed receiving the letter and said if the company complied, it would mean giving away nearly 20,000 hectares of ground.
Mahobele said ZimAlloys was consulting its shareholders on how to respond to the government’s letter.