Government Wednesday revealed it had secured $2 million from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to clear the country’s mining exploration mess and open new ground for exploration this year.
Zimbabwe’s exploration backlog is estimated at about 10 years, and is widely blamed on a government decision to suspend new mining titles issuances in 2001.
Government has only issued eight special grants in the last 12 months, and exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs) remain suspended for the rest of the year until it finalises the review process.
“Our country has remained under-explored as a result of the congestion of ground by unprocessed EPOs and special grants,” acting Mines and Mining Development minister Saviour Kasukuwere told a mining indaba in Harare Wednesday.
“In addition the ministry is now in the process of confirming and reconfirming EPO applications with a view to free ground for new players for exploration.”
Kasukuwere also revealed government was amending the Mines and Minerals Act to include a “use it or lose it” provision, a year after it announced the policy.
“We announced some measures through the budget, but they have not been effective.”
Investors attending the indaba raised concern that the EPO map published by government three months ago showed there was no room for mining exploration in the country.
Deputy Mines and Mining Development minister Gift Chimanikire said the majority of the EPOs for gold, chrome and nickel were held for speculative purposes.
“Nearly all chrome mining claims are held by two companies but many of these are not being used,” Chimanikire said.
“Some of the EPOs are held by people who are in London, who just pay the fees for holding them.”
Kasukuwere also urged international investors to adopt and implement the “Chiadzwa (joint venture) model” as a viable prototype for indigenisation and explained this was not equal to a “xenophobic disposition”.
Diamond companies operating in Chaidzwa have been modelled on a 50-50% joint venture basis.
Kasukuwere pointed out all new mining investment would be expected to comply with the 51% local equity requirement, while incumbent miners would have up to five years to comply.