Invictus Energy can now start exploration at its Muzarabani project after the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) approved the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) plan.
A certificate has been issued to Geo Associates, which is 80% owned by Invictus and is the holder of the special grant over the site. This gives the company permission to start fieldwork in the area, including preparations for exploration drilling. This is the key step that would confirm the resource.
“The approval of the Environmental Management plan concludes the permitting requirements and enables the Company to commence and undertake activities in the field including seismic acquisition and exploration drilling,” Invictus said in a statement Monday.
The Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) conducted the EIA.
The EIA included field surveys and baseline measurements of hydrology, ecology, environmental, archaeological, hydrogeological, soil surveys and community consultations. These public consultations, the company says, included community meetings that attracted up to 1,000 participants at some meetings.
“The issuing of the EIA license is a significant milestone for the Cabora Bassa Project and marks the progression from the primarily desktop studies phase to the on-ground activity phase of our exploration campaign,” Invictus Managing Director Scott Macmillan said.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) renewed Invictus’ investment licence. The Mining Affairs Board also extended the company’s tenure on the special grant by a further three years.
Invictus: COVID-19 impact
COVID-19, which has disrupted business worldwide, has delayed the company’s progress on the project. However, Macmillan says talks are continuing on a production sharing agreement with the Zimbabwe government.
The pandemic has also slowed investment in oil and gas around the world. However, in April, Macmillan told newZWire that the company had enough capital to fund operations in the country. Completion of a farm out deal, he said, would bring additional partners and capital to the project.
Independent surveys have pointed to good prospects for the project. However, only the drilling of an exploration well can confirm the resource. The company has initially set 2021 for drilling, but this may depend on the impact of COVID-19 this year.
“Mobilising a drill rig, equipment and skilled personnel is a massive endeavour involving hundreds of truckloads of equipment, and the rotation of hundreds of people through the operation over several months, the majority of which will be imported,” Macmillan said in the interview.
In its last quarterly report, Invictus said the best estimate it had received for drilling was US$11.7 million. This was for a 3,200m deep well which would be enough to test a prospect the size of Muzarabani at relatively low cost.