A MINING research expert at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has said lack of exploration of the country’s mineral deposits and lack of beneficiation of minerals will hinder achievement of ZimAsset objectives.
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Lyman Mlambo, who is chairman of the Institute of Mining Research at the UZ, said the mining industry was also bedevilled by a myriad of problems which included shortage of skills to do exploration and beneficiation, as well lack of local procurement by mining companies who imported machinery from outside the country.
In a paper titled Economic Overview of the Mining Sector in Zimbabwe and Key Developments which he presented before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, Mlambo said there was need for the country to establish a database containing mining geological information.
“Zimbabwe hosts 60 different types of minerals and 40 types which have been historically exploited to various extents,” he said.
“But little exploration has been done yet we have a record of 6 000 deposits of minerals such as gold, chromite, gas and other precious stones discovered
a long time ago. It appears as if people outside the country know better about what mineral resources Zimbabwe has and it becomes a serious issue when it comes to contract negotiation.”
Mlambo said 65% of the country had been geologically mapped, but this did not transfer into quantification of the minerals we had.
“It is expensive to do exploration. The UZ Institute of Mining Research is heavily incapacitated and we are operating without geologists, mineralogists,
or mine engineers. All these people are imported skills because of the issue of remuneration,” he said.
Mlambo said the country had over 4 000 recorded deposits of gold, which is about 84 million tonnes, while Chiadzwa diamonds had a potential to supply 25% of the world’s market.
“If there is meaningful investment in the mining sector, it will grow by $5 billion to $11 billion by 2018,” he said.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association director Shamiso Mtisi said geological information and exploration was imperative to enable the country’s leaders to negotiate meaningful mining contracts.
“Some contracts may favour a foreign investor or nation in that they may provide for the procurement of certain goods and services from the country where the foreign investor comes from or where the financing institution is resident,” he said.
“Mining legislation may give discretionary powers to the responsible minister to grant exemptions when concluding agreements. This may be abused if there are no checks and balances.”