Government will next year capitalise and operationalise the Mining Promotion Company to facilitate exploration that will give a scientific assessment of the country’s mineral resource endowment.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura revealed the plans in an interview with The Sunday Mail Business after the ministry was allocated $1, 4 billion in the 2021 National Budget.
Exploration is one of the key pillars with which the Government is seeking to transform the country’s mining sector towards a US$12 billion industry by 2023 up from US$2, 7 billion in 2017.
Other key pillars of the mining sector milestone are opening of greenfield operations, expansion of existing projects, value addition and beneficiation as well as luring foreign direct investment (FDI) to optimise production. The allocation goes to the core of key objectives of the Government’s economic blueprint that runs for five years from 2021 to 2025, the National Development Strategy (NDS1) 1, which seeks to build on the successes of the Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP) and grow the economy to upper middle income status by 2030.
President Mnangagwa is on record saying mining and agriculture will be the key anchors on which his Vision 2030, of transforming Zimbabwe to upper middle income country, will be attained.
The planned state led exploration exercise will largely focus on greenfield Government projects as well as other brownfield deposits, which need fresh capital injection.
It also comes at a time when several private sector investors that have heeded President Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for Business” call are undertaking different exploration projects. Armed with this scientifically proven resource defined deposits, the Government is hopeful to further give impetus to its FDI lure.
“The $1, 4 billion comes at the right time because exploration is a key anchor of our mining development strategy,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
“In the past there was no exploration and companies were signing joint-ventures with the Government which would turn out to show we had been short-changed having signed for a resource quantum we didn’t know.
“Even the Africa mining vision notes that there is a resources curse in Africa because we negotiate over resources whose size we don’t know. So the injection we are getting for next year will go towards capacitating and operationalising our Mining Promotion Company so that it can have the right equipment, right personnel and all technical services that they require for them to do exploration. The exploration will target Government reserved areas. We have plenty of reserved areas that are under-utilised but have huge potential which can be unlocked with joint ventures,” he said.
So extensive will be the exercise that the Mining Promotion Company will partner with the University of Zimbabwe.
The partnership is meant to unearth other commercially viable deposits that may be found in ore bodies that are dominated by another mineral. Deputy Minister Kambamura said while the $1, 4 billion might not be enough to exhaustively carry out the envisaged works, the good thing is that the money will provide the much needed framework that will get the work going and should need arise treasury is bound to release more for worthy causes.
“They will also partner the Institute of Mining Research from the University of Zimbabwe, because they are some ore bodies which carry several other minerals,” said the Deputy Minister.
“There are cases of gold bearing ore bodies having other minerals other than gold, so it is through research where you can then find you can end up extracting more than one mineral. So when we then engage investors we can then say, for example, the main mineral is lithium but the ore body has other minerals like petalite, tantalite, lepedolite, spodumene and others and that is the best way to recoup maximum returns as per His Excellency’s (the President) directive,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector progress, as is the case with the rest of the African continent, has been pegged back by under exploration. In its Africa Mining Vision (AMV), through which the African Union (AU) seek to ensure that Africa fully benefits from its minerals, the AU notes that there is a resource curse in Africa as Africans negotiate for resources whose quantum they don’t know. Zimbabwe is thus taking a giant step to peel away from Africa’s “resource curse”. Sunday Mail