While the former Minister of Mines and Mining Development Hon Winston Chitando had a relatively successful term at the helm of the mining sector, taking the sector from US$2.7 billion in 2017 to US$9.5 billion in 2022, Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues were not clearly addressed leaving Stakeholders to pin their hopes on the newly appointed Minister Hon Soda Zhemu.
Stakeholders are looking to Minister Zhemu to address
- Energy and power issues,
- The finalization of the national minerals development policy,
- ASM subsector policy,
- Various mineral-specific policies (we only have a diamond policy),
- Finalization of the amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act and various subsidiary legislations and regulations,
- Provide a clear framework on how the country is to navigate the green transition optimally given that the country still has a lot of hydrocarbon (including fossil) resources and is also richly endowed with critical energy minerals that feed the green energy revolution;
- To finalize the implementation of the computerized cadastre or institute even better tech systems that promote transparency and accountability as well as administration in the mining sector;
- Ease of doing business and basically to drastically and positively shift the country’s policy and fiscal perception indices;
- Come up with a comprehensive ASM formalization strategy and implement it;
- Market the country’s mineral resources in order to attract increased FDI flows into the sector;
- Enhance the marketing of the country’s mineral products to ensure maximum economic benefit to the country;
- Promote inclusivity in the exploitation of the mineral resources;
- Ensure the broad-based sharing of the benefits from the mining sector including designing a strategy for the implementation of the devolution agenda with respect to mining.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) presented by Joyce Nyamukunda said,
“We expect to collaborate and share information with the Minister on responsible mining audit, KP Chairmanship, developing a Lithium mining policy framework, promoting responsible mining investments in Zimbabwe, revision and finalization of Mines Bill, Establish mining cadastre system, Formalization of Artisanal miners through a legal instrument and adoption of ASM Policy, Building the capacity of School of Mines to train miners and other stakeholders on mining issues,” Nyamukunda said.
Mineral economist Lyman Mlambo said there is a need for Minister Zhemu considering his history as the Minister of Energy to ensure that the mining sector gets enough power to fund various projects that are coming on board.
“I think Honorable Soda’s experience from the Ministry of Energy will be very useful in his new portfolio. Mining, mineral processing, beneficiation and value addition as well as upstream (supply) industries are energy intensive, and this whole value chain has suffered due to energy deficits. Dr Gloria Magombo, when she was still CEO of ZERA in 2014, told a beneficiation conference in Victoria Falls, that the mining and industrial sectors were the main consumers of energy in the country at a combined consumption of 40%. By now this demand has skyrocketed given the development in the mining sector over the years. As I indicated in a presentation at the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines Annual Mining Conference in 2019, on average a mine needs an uninterrupted power supply every day of not less than 16 hours to ensure optimal or safe running of machines and maintenance of production levels. At the same forum, I indicated that the cost of these power outages to a mining firm goes up to 6% of revenue and that is not sustainable. We need a lasting solution to that and I am sure Honorable Soda has an answer to that. So his appointment at this stage when the mining industry and related activities are expanding is critical. You are aware that the country is implementing an NDS1 which is mainly anchored on transformational development of linkages including beneficiation and value addition as well as local supply enterprise development,” Mlambo said.
According to mineral resource expert Tapiwa O’bren Nhachi, Minister Zhemu should address issues to do with policy inconsistency which has been a major challenge for the mining industry in Zimbabwe. He said frequent changes in mining policies and regulations have created uncertainty for investors and hindered the growth of the sector. Nhachi also said that the lack of transparency in policy-making has contributed to a lack of trust and confidence among stakeholders.
Nhachi said inadequate infrastructure has also been a challenge for the mining industry. He said the country’s poor road network, limited access to electricity, and unreliable water supply have made it difficult for mining companies to operate efficiently and cost-effectively which has also made it difficult to attract investment in the sector.
“My honest opinion on this is that as long As Soda Zhemu is not able to deal with the organised criminal activities that are synonymous with the mineral resource governance regime in Zimbabwe, we should not expect much from Him.
“Secondly, as stakeholders, we would expect him to plug the leakages within the mining sector, and make sure that transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of his ministry.
“We would also expect him to work with other parent ministries to deal with the environmental catastrophe that has plunged communities that host mining companies notably, Hwange, Penhalonga, Shurugwi Mutoko and others. The issue of unregulated mining activities tied to patronage should immediately stop.
“The issue of resource revenue sharing between companies and communities facilitated by the government should be looked into. This also brings into the picture community welfare in relation to forced relocations and so on,” Nhachi said.
The country’s biggest young people-led Mining Association, the Young Miner Foundation (YMF) represented by its CEO Payne Farai Kupfuwa said the Minister should look at things like Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) and ensure that young people are allowed to sit on decision-making boards in the mining industry.
“As young miners, we would want to congratulate Hon Zhemu for being appointed the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. We look forward that you continue from the work that Hon Winston Chitando did in terms of promoting Mining to a USD billion mining industry. A lot of work was done in terms of investment and exploration. We look forward to more engagement with Hon Zhemu in terms of continuous encouragement of Formalisation and professionalisation of small-scale mining. There should be deliberate efforts in terms of accessing mining rights addressing the issues of EPOs and ensuring that big mining companies sitting on big track of land can also cease them for young people to extract resources. We are concerned about a youth desk in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, the desk has not been useful for the youth so far. We are also concerned about the mines bill and we also want young people to seek on the mining affairs board. Young people should be sitting on decision-making boards that have to do with the development of mining. Of importance are exchange programs, young people need to be exposed to attend exchange programs,” Kupfuwa said.
Small-scale miner, Mr Shelton Lucas said the Minister need to look into some statutory instruments (SIs) that seem to be meant to disenfranchise small-scale mining in the form of suspension of special grants among other issues.
“We support the move done by his excellency and we welcome him to the Ministry as stakeholders. However there is a need for him to relook at some of the statutory instruments which were meant to disenfranchise small-scale miners in the form of suspension of special grants which heavily affected miners especially chrome which is distributed along the dyke which is entirely covered by reservation, lifting of the bans on prospecting and pegging for lithium, copper and rare earth elements and also implementing an equitable ratio of exclusive prospecting orders against the surface area of peggable land in the county,” Lucas said.
Meanwhile, Dallaglio Investments’ Pickstone Peerless Mine in Chegutu, Zimbabwe is set to host the Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) for a technical visit on September 21, 2023. The Q3 visit aims to facilitate the exchange of information, skills, and expertise within the mining industry.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe, AMMZ President Engineer Elton Gwatidzo said members’ visit will be on the mine’s new underground infrastructure and processing operations.
“The focus of the visit will be on the mine’s new underground infrastructure and processing operations. Delegates will have the opportunity to tour the underground facilities and witness the mine’s open pit to underground transition. The visit will also showcase the mine’s operational readiness in the underground setting,” President Gwatidzo said.