Zimbabwe has given an ultimatum to holders of mining licences to pay an annual renewal fee by April, or face losing their licenses, mines Minister Winston Chitando announced on Wednesday.
The southern African country is home to vast gold and mineral reserves, including diamonds and platinum. And mining accounts for a large portion of Zimbabwe's foreign currency earnings.
"All the mining title holders who owed money to the ministry of mines and mining development as at 31 January 2020 will be given until 30 April to pay up," Chitando said in a statement.
"Failing which the mining title would be lost in terms of provisions of the mines and minerals act," he said without specifying on amounts owed.
A source interviewed by AFP said the mining companies' arrears amount to several million dollars.
Zimbabwe has valuable platinum, diamond, gold, coal and copper deposits.
However, operations have been hamstrung by a critical power deficit which has seen some areas going for up to 18 hours without electricity forcing companies to run on costly diesel-powered generators.
The country's diamond mines have since October come under severe pressure, when the US banned its exports of uncut diamonds saying the gems were being extracted by forced labour at a major mining area in eastern Zimbabwe.