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The regional administration of Oromia has drafted a mining proclamation to replace the federal government’s rights to the mines, which it wrote about in different proclamations, with regards to regional natural resources.
The new proclamation that the regional government stated is drafted as per the constitution and will allow it to managing and operation of mining from precious minerals to industrial products.
A source at Oromia Water, Mine and Energy Bureau, who preferred not to be mentioned, told Capital that the regional proclamation is developed in line with the constitution. He said that in the current stage the draft proclamation is under discussion and training is being provided for officers at the lower level. “It will have regulations and directives for further implementation,” the bureau officer said.
The regional proclamation will fill the gap of the proclamation which was ratified at the federal level. “The previous proclamation, endorsed by the federal government needed revision when people applied the rules on the ground,” he added.
He said that the regional government was not able to manage the sector because the investors or miners claimed that they secured the license from the federal government and their mandate was for the federal government.
“Due to that we did not have any mechanism to control the operation, provide licensing, and take measures on illegal acts for a specific sector or for the benefit of the regions and the country in general,” the expert said.
The regional proclamation will put an amicable law that will benefit the region and country as a whole, the expert added.
Based on that the upcoming mining proclamation that will be ratified by the ‘Chefe’ (regional council) gives the regional administration the right to administer mining resources, develop, provide licenses, terminate the licenses or close the mine when the agreement ends, penalize and even support the operation.
“Experts and officers, who work in the sector at the regional zones and city administrations, have already been trained in the implementation of the new law and it will remain ratified at the regional council,” the regional mining bureau head said.
The regional experts argued that they are required to ratify the proclamation to adhere to the constitution, which was amended about 22 years ago and gives the right to the regions to administer their natural resources.
Sub article 2, D of Article 52 of the constitution under the title ‘Powers and Functions of States’ says that states have a right to administer land and other natural resources in accordance with Federal laws.
The Article sub Article 2, C says that states are to formulate and execute economic, social and development policies, strategies and plans of the State. Experts said that for the implementation of the constitution regions have to implement adequate policies and strategies as per the law of the federal government.
“Currently, we are also working with the federal government to tackle problems faced in the mining sector,” experts at the bureau added.
“The regional proclamation idea is not saying the federal government does not have a role. However, the region has to be involved in the regional activity,” experts said. “But the relationship between the federal government and regional states has to adhere to the constitution,” they said.
Experts argued that the federal proclamation is exercising rights that are given to regional states.
Regional administrations have been controlling small and medium scale mining activities, while the federal government has been fully managing the operation and investment of the large scale investments.
The federal government endorsed two proclamations in 1993 under the transitional government period and in 2010.
Creating clarity in the mining sector is something the regional administration is undertaking, according to an officer at the regional bureau.
“In the current status there is not clarity. Individuals take a plot of land and cover it but it is not clear what they are doing,” he added.
“Investors or small scale companies who engage in precious mining investment or industrial minerals have to conduct their business clearly. This will benefit the country and the public,” he argued.
Experts said that the current contraband activity in gold mining occurs because of insufficient governance and clarity which is bleeding the country’s hard currency earnings.
They claimed that the revenue from the sector has been declining. In addition the mining companies should benefit the local communities and the region needs to follow that up closely,” an expert said. “The recent problems were the result of these inappropriate actions,” the expert added.
However the regional bureau experts declined to give details about the investment of Midroc’s gold mine.
“It is licensed by the federal government and the federal government is responsible for renewing the gold mining operation at Lege Dambi,” they said. However sources said that regional administration is looking for the mining area to develop a gold mine under an enterprise.
A week ago the Motuma Mekassa, Minister of Mines, Petroleum & Natural Gas, told Capital he does not have the information about what the regional administration is looking for. MIDROC has filed for an extension of an additional ten years on the Lege Dembi Gold Mining that it developed for the last two decades. “The license has not been renewed, but there is time,” Motuma said.
MIDROC Gold Mine, which bought the state owned Lege Dembi Gold Mine, 500km south of Addis Ababa in Guji Zone, Oromia region, in 1997 at a cost of USD 172 million for 20 years, will conclude its initial deal before the end of the current budget year. As per the initial deal the mining contract will be extended for an additional ten years.