- February 18, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Last month Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) sent a letter to the Mines Minister, Winston Chitando. ZMF stated that they were against the application of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) due to the fact that EPOs are against national interest.
Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga
ZMF argued that, while it is true that there is a need to explore and quantify minerals in Zimbabwe using modern technologies, EPOs will eventually affect the uplifting of women and economic empowerment, gains achieved since independence due to the fact that some people will grab large pieces of land for themselves living others with nothing specifically women who are mainly amateurs in the industry.
Commenting on ZMF stance, one expert in the mining industry and economics said that EPOs were necessary for the country to discover new metals and also to protect other metals from being extracted without the knowledge of the government which might lead individuals or organizations benefiting instead of the government.
“Surely the government must have guidelines to curb speculation. The rest of the world grants EPOs and new large deposits are found that way. The government can simply copy regulations that stop speculative purposes. Rather than ban exploration that generates new large scale deposits which Zimbabwe is so desperate to increase forex generation for the country” he said.
However, some miners believe that EPOs should be strapped because they are becoming a platform of corruption and prestige, where one would just acquire large pieces of land without even mining.
“The challenge is people hold on to these EPOs for years without any work on the ground. The rules are there but with little enforcement as has been the case, the industry is going to suffer” said one miner.
Those who support the idea that EPOS are a danger to gains of economic freedom believe that EPOs should target mainly heavy metals like lithium and gases, coal. As gold and chrome have been prospected and discovered long back. They believe that the Government must prioritize small scale mining for quick gains in gold and chrome production.
However, experts believe that, under any circumstances, EPOs have to be enforced. Corrupt elements that might be disturbing the correct purpose of EPOs should be looked in to. They believe that for the mining industry to grow the current position on EPOs is the right thing to do.
“Any country that requires new deposits must give companies ground for large scale exploration. The reason people think gold was discovered long back only is that there hasn’t been exploration ground available for new discoveries to be made. This is exactly why Zimbabwe came from being the third-largest gold producer in Africa to I don’t even know number what now. That’s why we get happy producing 30 tonnes of gold when we should be close to 100 tonnes of gold per year” said one expert.
This article first appeared in Mining Zimbabwe Feb 2019 issue