Poor work ethics and incompetency at the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development especially on delaying to grant or reject Exclusive Prospecting Orders ( EPOs) will affect the President’s vision for the Mining sector to achieve a US$12 Billion industry by 2023, Mining Zimbabwe can report.
Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga
According to the Managing Geologist for Great Centre Geological Services Kennedy Mtetwa by delaying to grant or reject EPOs the government is speculatively holding on to land that should be used by either an EPO holder or a small-scale miner.
“An EPO application freezes exploration ground for both the applicant and the smallscale miners. No one can work in an EPO application area that has been gazetted by the government. So the government won’t have granted nor rejected the EPO application. The exploration ground remains frozen from anyone.” Mtetwa said.
This means that the Mines and Minerals Act gives or allows the ground to be covered in expectation of an EPO being awarded which results in perspective areas earmarked for EPOs being covered but the EPO applicant not actually receiving permission to advance.
It is therefore Mining Zimbabwe’s advice that the granting or rejection of EPOs is not supposed to take more than 3 months for mining business to take place. According to Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) Vice President Ms Lindiwe Mpofu it was of importance for the government to grant EPOs as this would help small-scale miners apply for tributary claims from EPO holders.
“Granting EPO’s would help ease our plight as we can engage the Grant holders to mine out areas that are not suitable for large scale mining or mine out minerals that are not listed by them, remember you can only mine up
to a certain number of minerals and you can only mine those specifically.
It is long understood that the bigger mines use artisanal and small scale miners as an indicator for geological purposes and mapping in some instances and if vast areas are cordoned off for years without any activity it won’t be advantageous to the country or the growth of artisanal and small scale miners who are struggling to find areas to mine.” Mpofu said.
An EPO is a large area of ground targeting selected minerals for exploration. The maximum is 65,000 hectares in Zimbabwe and a minimum size is up to the company or individual to choose. EPO’s tenure is 3 years with an option to renew for another 3 years. EPOs are used by companies as first-pass exploration areas. This means that companies after doing the highly technical exploration studies will eventually drop the EPO ground in 3 years.
Large scale exploration is carried out under licenses issued by the Head of State and administered by the Mining Affairs Board as per the provisions of Mines and Minerals Act 12:05. Two titles are issued under large scale exploration depending on the mineral to be explored according to the act, which are Special Grant (SG) for energy minerals like Coal Bed Methane, natural gas, oil, and uranium, and EPOs for other minerals, example base metals, gold, diamond.