LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - Zambia has started paying value-added-tax (VAT) refunds again to mining companies, its mining minister said on Monday, aiming to put an end to a long running dispute.
Mining companies had claimed for months that they were owed more than $600 million in VAT refunds and in February the government decided to relax the rule requiring exporters to produce import-export documents to claim the refunds.
"We are very committed to repaying. We have started to pay and that's to clear the debacle," mines, energy and water development minister Christopher Yaluma said on the sidelines of the Zambia Mining Investment Forum.
Foreign companies operating mines in the world's second biggest producer of copper include Glencore, First Quantum Barrick Gold Corp and Vedanta.
Vedanta's chief executive Tom Albanese, a delegate at the event, confirmed that the government had resumed some payments.
"They are beginning to pay back on invoices post February 2015 on a case by case basis," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
A source at another mining firm, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media, also said Zambia had started some VAT refund payments, although small. (Editing by Louise Ireland)