Australian miner arrested in Zimbabwe

An Australian has been arrested in Zimbabwe for ‘illegally owning a company’.

It has also been reported the man was involved in a scam involving high level politicians.

The man is accused of representing himself as the legal owner of a mine, despite not having ‘official’ clearance.

Lee Waverly John reportedly took control of a gold mine in the Kwekwe region, and began operations after the original owners, Delta Gold, left the country, according to All Africa.

Between February 2002 and February 2005 John mined the claims through his company known as Kwekwe Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM, not to be confused with Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines which is also known as KCGM).

These tenements were formerly owned by Australian miner Delta Gold, which sold them to John in 2002.

He also allegedly wrote a ‘non-tribute- agreement between a company called Homestake Mining and Technical Services and KCGM, signing it as the owner of KCGM.

He then wrote to KCGM workers advising them that he was the new director of Homestake

According to The Australian, John awarded tribute agreements to a number of individuals and companies, and also collected royalties on the mine.

This was despite carrying out operations without mining rights from the Zimbabwean Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

John was initially declared a prohibited immigrant for illegally representing KCGM as the owner of the mine and Homestake, and receiving royalties.

He was deported back to Australia, but then returned to Zimbabwe, declaring himself a citizen of the country by acquiring a drivers licence, the Zimbabwe Herald reported.

However the Australian stated that he gained a two year investor’s residence permit.

After this he entered into a number of tribute agreements with other companies, earning approximately $440 000.

Some of these tributes were allegedly with high ranking members of the Zimbabwean Government, who allowed him to mine without having to receive mining rights.

However, according to John’s lawyers "these are trumped-up charges so certain individuals can take over my client’s mine".

John has been arrested and forced to hand over his passport.

Last year Zimbabwe forced all miners in the country to hand over more than 50% of their operations, or they would be kicked out of the country.

Miners such as Rio Tinto ceded control of their Murowa Diamonds operations in the country.

Zimbabwe also raised mining and licence fees by between 500 and 5000% this year.

Registration of diamond claims have increased from $US1 million to $US5 million, while application fees for coal investors have risen from $US5000 to $US100,000.

The platinum industry has seen some of the biggest hikes, with application fees rising from $US200 to $US500,000.

Should an application for platinum mining be successful the licence to operate has also skyrocketed, rising from $US500 to $US2.5 million.

Image: Zimbabwe Herald

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