Artisanal miners to be allowed to work in areas under EPOs: Govt

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

GOVERNMENT says small-scale miners will be allowed to peg mining claims in areas that are under exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs).

This will be in line with new regulations currently under consideration.

“We are coming up with modalities to see how best we can structure it (EPO) because it’s like now most mining areas are covered by these EPOs that were applied for and legally, the moment one applies for an EPO and it is gazetted, no one is allowed to peg in that area, even before the EPO has been approved by the Mining Affairs Board,” Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Polite Kambamura told journalists in Bulawayo recently.

“So, we are working on a modality or trying to restructure the formalities in order to allow our miners to be able to peg in the EPOs. For example, an EPO holder will apply maybe for 60 000 hectares and there is a small scale miner who wants to peg a 10 hectares mining block. This is just a drop in the ocean.

“We will talk to EPO holders so that they allow our miners to peg once we have finalised the processes of issuing their EPOs. We have started working on that already. We think by mid-next month, we should be done.”

Currently, the Mining Affairs Board is considering applications of about eleven companies that applied for EPOs.

Some of the applicants include Canlite Mining Exploration (Pvt) Ltd, Infield Mining Exploration, Pearline Mining Exploration (Pvt) Ltd, DGL Investments, Zulu Lithium (Pvt) Ltd, Zimthai Tantalum (Pvt) Ltd, Primecraft Investments, Lambourne Limestone, Sinamatella Investments, Triminzim (Pvt) Ltd and RioZim.

The EPO applications that are under consideration involve minerals such as gold, diamonds, lithium and uranium.

Kambamura said they were objections to all the EPO applications and discussions were ongoing among the applicants and objectors.

“There were lots of objections throughout. So, we are in the process of calling the applicant and people who objected that particular EPO to come forward, sit around the table. Those who objected will indicate why they objected in the presence of the applicant. Thereafter, the Mining Affairs Board will make a decision,” he said.

“Currently, there is no decision that has been made by the Mining Affairs Board. We are still in the process of contacting all those people who objected because there were a lot of objections.”

He said the country was under-explored, hence the reason to issue out EPOs.

“Small-scale miners feel that the coming in of EPOs will bar them from pegging and mining their claims, but as a country, we need our country to be explored. We cannot do exploration without the EPOs coming into play. So, we need to restructure and at the same time explore, while also allowing our miners to peg,” he said.

2 Comments

  1. EPO’S & SG’s covering large areas definitely restrict other exploration and mining development. To carry out extensive exploration on a 5000 hectare ( 5km x 10km ) block takes time in most cases years. The mines act should be adjusted in this respect. If the current EPO’s and special grants are thoroughly checked i am doubtful there is even 5% of the allocated area that has been extensively explored or core drilled over the past 15 years. Serious exploration starts with mapping and geological research and not owning huge tracts of land that cannot be developed by other miners or prospectors.I fully support the deputy ministers comments.

  2. Even with my limited calling in the mining sector, the Minister’s move sounds populist and ill-advised. I would rather encourage the Mining Affairs Board to exercise maximum caution when interviewing applicants for EPOs – where capability resourcefulness and timelines are paramount so land does not lye idle. Before allowing (with all due respect) under-funded,primitive skilled artisanal-miners unlimited access to that land. Or better still encourage the Makorokozas to form co-operatives and apply for the same EPOs themselves support them with resources. Once armed with the EPO they can form partnerships with reputable mining firms interested in the same area – will that not be better empowerment.

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