MUTARE– Speaker of Parliament Advocate Jacob Mudenda says Zimbabwe needs at least US$20 million to conduct a comprehensive exploration exercise to map mineral deposits in the country.
Mudenda made these remarks in his keynote address to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mineral Development and stakeholders during a review of legislation and policies governing the mining sector.
He said key resolution from stakeholder consultation has already stressed the need for the drafting of an Exploration Bill which would strengthen the exploratory capacity of the country and pave way for the setting up of an exploration company.
Mudenda said the African Mining Vision illustrates that most African nations have failed to fully leverage their mineral resources potential because of the lack of geological evidence on mineral endowment.
He said locally the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development is still using antiquated topographical maps, some which have depreciated over time.
“The African Mining Vision highlights that most African nations lose out because they lack basic geological mapping and are poorly mapped.
“Locally the Ministry continues to rely on old topographical maps in the issuance of mining claims. Those maps are really antiquated, some of these maps are barely visible hence the need for the Min of Finance need to sponsor the completion of the mining cadastre system
“This system would not cost more than USD20 million, we can make savings and ensure the ministry if operational as far as the cadastre. It is imperative that we know the minerals that we have especially along the great dyke this is important in signing of agreement without which the country could be prejudiced,” said Mudenda.
In response the Minister of Mines and Minerals Development, Winston Chitando acknowledged challenges bedeviling the sector from lack of computerized cadastre system and exploration in boosting productivity in the mining industry.
Chitando was however buoyant that the mining sector, regardless of these challenges particularly a lack of a substantive Act of Parliament to guide operations, that the sector would achieve its ambitious US$12 billion target.
“Mining industry is headed for great heights, despite challenges which are there in the sector, we have invested in exploration.
“In terms of the money for the purchase of the hardware, for the cadastre system, was released so payment has been done.
“These second development is that Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education concluded that they will be able to speedily implement the exercise at a lower costs and also cheaper running costs in terms of maintenance on a year to year basis.
“Implementation will be done by the ministry of Higher education, a committee has been and they believe at most in twelve months they will be done with all the work for the system,” said Chitando.
Civic society players however say government must not merely make pronouncements without following up and implementing what may appear good policies on paper, citing the delays in policy formulation in the mining sector.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) deputy director Mutuso Dhliwayo said while the pronouncements offered hope, government should accelerate these efforts as mining was already taking place.
He said the Mines and Minerals bill, which has been scheduled for amendments since 2007, was a sign that government may merely make pronouncements without following through to implement.
Dhliwayo said the country can only achieve sustainable benefits from mining if there are progressive policies are in place which enable the country to strike good investment deals and contracts.
“In terms of pronouncements that’s very good but there is s difference between pronouncements and implementation, and this has been one of our biggest challenges.
“As long as there is no implementation, people will remain skeptical. So pronouncement is good but it should be followed by implementation, we are already mining but there is no exploration which is critical in terms of us getting information.
“This will help us in terms of negotiating of these contracts and mining deals but we are not doing that. The cadastre system is critical, any country that has succeeded in getting benefits from exploration of its minerals.
“We welcome the pronouncements but we are more interested in terms of the action, so hopefully they will follow through that but given the history of what has happened before it’s difficult to rely on those pronouncements until we see action on the ground,” said Dhliwayo.