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Mineral Exploration Bill crucial

“We will have a gold enquiry. If you think the diamond enquiry was sensitive, the gold enquiry is worse. We will call a spade a spade. We shall name and shame those in the forefront of corruption.”

 By Business Reporter

HARARE (Mining Index) – COMPREHENSIVE mineral resource prospecting and evaluation is critical for Zimbabwe to pave way for judicious exploitation of natural resources and increased investment in the mining sector.

Zimbabwe does not have thorough geological information and has not conducted detailed exploration to determine the quantity and quality of its mineral resources.

Foreign owned companies from China and Australia have been doing exploration work in search of gas, oil, lithium and vanadium.

Speaking during an Artisanal Small-Scale Mining (ASM) Investment Conference organised by Institute for Sustainability Africa (Insaf), chairperson of the Mines and Energy Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Temba Mliwa said the Minerals Exploration Bill is vital in assessing Zimbabwe’s mineral worth, and will seek to address and promote resource evaluation, reserve definition and resource extraction.

“We also have the aspect of the minerals, that’s why we talk about what we call the Exploration bill.”

Mliswa said Zimbabwe is good at drafting beneficial policy documents but lack implementation. He noted that there was no review of the ZIMASSET, and government has already moved a step in adopting the recent Transition Stabilisation Program (TSP) which revealed that mining requires US$11billion worth of investment.

He condemned lack of institutional memory that has hindered continuity of government policies and programs which has seen an exploration company established by the Rhodesian government in the 1960s still on paper.

“The Rhodesian government had set up a company which was going to do exploration in 1964 and up to now we have not done anything to really explore our minerals.”

He urged government, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to priorities mineral exploration to effectively quantify our mineral worth and quantity.

“There is no way you can talk about the value of your assets without knowing the quality and quantity. The Exploration Bill is critical in knowing the resources that we have and we don’t have that. We have to have figures that talk to that. We have economists in this country. They must be able to be first to talk about the success of this economy with us coming up with figures of what we have,” said Mliswa.

Government will, however, need to look for investors as exploration is an expensive exercise that requires substantial capital.

He lamented on mineral leakages through smuggling which he blamed on continued corruption rampant in the country.

“How much is being smuggled. We cannot have a fuel tank that is leaking all the time

We have got to deal with leaking. We talk about the minerals we have but we don’t talk about the leakages, and this is where the aspect of corruption comes in. Most of the mineral leakages are a result of corruption,” he added.

He said government needs to review taxation models in mining where over 22 types of taxes, including, but not limited to Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) are being levied on miners.

Mliswa noted that the Gold Trade Act is in need of review as it still relates to the Rhodesian time, stipulating that those found in possession of gold will be arrested. “We need to come up with laws that apply to the current situation,” he said.

He added that a gold enquiry will soon begin in order to bring transparency and alleviate corruption in the gold sector. “We will have a gold enquiry. If you think the diamond enquiry was sensitive, the gold enquiry is worse. We will call a spade a spade. We shall name and shame those in the forefront of corruption.”

Mliswa said government should promote local value addition and beneficiation of minerals and government must fully capacitate Aurex to fully beneficiate minerals.

“Our diamonds are going to Botswana, Aurex is 100 percent owned by government and must be at the forefront of beneficiation.”

“We cannot allow a situation where we are exporting jobs. Government must empower Zimbabweans who own polishing houses,” said Mliswa. ENDS//

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