Govt to find new investors for nine mines

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Minister of Minning Lebohang Thotanyana
Minister of Minning Lebohang Thotanyana

Bereng Mpaki

MINISTER of Mining Lebohang Thotanyana says the Mining Board would soon call for new investors to take over nine mines that were not being utilised.

In an interview with Lesotho Times this week, the minister said the revocation of nine prospecting licences was nearing completion, with two holders having already surrendered them after failing to get their exploration activities off the ground.

Mr Thotanyana said seven of the nine had, however, appealed the decision to cancel their licenses to the Mining Board.

“We are currently finalising the revocation process after some of the mining companies appealed the decision. I have sent their cases back to the Mining Board. We are doing this to give them a fair hearing in order to determine whether they can continue or not,” he said.

This was after the ministry assessed all the 19 mining companies holding prospecting licenses in the country to ascertain the progress they were making and to award the licenses to companies that would demonstrate their capacity to prospect.

“The study revealed that very little progress was being made. It was then presented to the new Mining Board which was appointed in January this year and has since recommended the cancelation of licenses for companies that are not prospecting,” said Mr Thotanyana.

“We have revoked a total of nine prospecting licenses which include two that were surrendered. These prospecting licenses were revoked because the mining companies holding them could not carry out the intended operations due to a lack of capacity.”

He said the mining companies had not submitted progress reports with some not even based at the locations they claimed to be their offices as required by the law.

“The law is based on the principle of use it or lose it. We cannot allow people to hold on to prospecting licenses under false pretences of being investors when they don’t have the requisite financial resources or technical skills. As a result, they are holding the entire nation to ransom. It cannot happen,” the minister declared.

He said as soon as the process of cancelling the licenses was completed, the Mining Board would declare the sites open again and then call for new investors to takeover.

“We really need serious investors who will not hold the country back as were are grappling with high levels of unemployment we need to address.”

Meanwhile, the government’s search for an investor to take over Mothae Mine has been narrowed to two mining companies.

Mr Thotanyana said they shortlisted the firms from five applications that were received.

“We are hoping to make an announcement on who has been awarded a stake in the mine in two weeks’ time,” he added.

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