Zimbabwe is pressing ahead with indigenisation plans as mining firms jostled this week to beat the deadline of submitting plans of how they intend to dispose of their 51 per cent shares to indigenous black Zimbabweans.

Mining firms have a deadlin of May 13 to submit these plans or face prosecution that might see guilty parties facing possible five-year jail terms and/or fines.

Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere said at least six mining firms had submitted their plans.
"I can confirm that at least six mining firms have told us what they intend to do as far as indigenisation is concerned. I am, however, unhappy that we tend to see the same names appearing in their pitch letters which is worrying," he said.

Under the new law, all firms worth more than US $500,000 must give up at least 51 per cent shareholding to native Zimbabweans.

The law begins with mining firms, which the government have accused of externalising resources and contributing little to the National Treasury.

During the presentation of the 2011 National Budget, finance minister Tendai Biti said while total mineral exports reached US$1.7 billion in 2010, driven by platinum sales, only US$4 million had trickled to government in taxes.

The mining industry is now the anchor of the resurgent Zimbabwean economy and contributed significantly to last year's economic growth of eight percent.

Zimbabwe boasts of the world's second largest reserves of platinum, has discovered alluvial diamonds which experts say could generate US $2 billion a year and has large gold, chrome, platinum and coal deposits.

The country has created a sovereign wealth fund, which will be a buffer for the purchase of the shares from mining interests.

Kasukuwere said the sovereign fund would be funded from earnings from mineral exports, including diamonds.

Some of the large foreign-owned miners in the line of fire include Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, the top two platinum producers in the world and diversified miner Rio Tinto, which controls Murowa diamond mine in the country.

Impala Platinum, whose local unit Zimplats is Zimbabwe's largest platinum miner has particularly come under fire in recent weeks, with President Mugabe accusing it of siphoning money from the country.

The firms have seen their share price tumbling on bourses they are listed on as investors responded to the news.