Nearly 50pc of Zim not mapped
NEARLY half the country has not been geologically surveyed to determine the extent of mineral wealth, as the country slowly depletes its major existing mines, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets can report.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Fred Moyo, told C&M that this had resulted in poorly negotiated contracts, prejudicing the country.
Exploration allows the country to know its mineral wealth, instead of depending on private companies, most of them foreign, to advise government on such a crucial issue.
Although Zimbabwe is a mineral-rich country, believed to be endowed with more than 50 different types of minerals, it has been under explored as it has failed to undertake new comprehensive mineral exploration over the past three decades owing to lack of long-term financing.
Mineral exploration, which helps the country with geological data, is the most important part of the mining cycle and is the process through which commercial concentrations of mineral resources are discovered.
It covers activities from the preliminary collection of existing geological data to drilling and sample assays.
“Zimbabwe remains under-explored with only 60 percent of the country being mapped,” said Moyo.
“To this end the government has established an exploration company which will be responsible to carry out exploration on behalf of government to augment private sector efforts.”
Moyo’s remarks come at a time when government has approved the transformation of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe into an exploration company to be called the Mineral Exploration Promotion Corporation, to quantify the country’s mineral reserves and deposits.
The company is expected to start extensive mineral exploration country-wide, in both brown and greenfields once funds are available, complementing mining explorations that are being undertaken by the private sector though at a very minimal extent.
Private companies however, remain integral players in exploration activities but some companies operating in the country have held back on projects.
The government move would help ensure that the mining sector plays a big role in economic recovery and development.
The State exploration company is expected to be operational by year-end and this is a step in the right direction as it would estimate mineral reserves on a national level.
According to the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, US$7 billion would be required to explore 40 percent of the mineral deposits in the next five years.
It also said exploration would lure foreign direct investments in the mining sector.
However, experts said efforts towards the exploration of new mineral deposits have been slow due to financial constraints and hurdles to raise funds locally.
Foreign investors have been scared by the country’s controversial indigenisation programme which compels foreign-owned companies to cede a 51 percent stake to indigenous people by end of this year.
The Chamber of Mines said modern exploration techniques that have yielded significant findings elsewhere in the world were still to find application in Zimbabwe.
This provides for exciting opportunities for those willing to take the calculated risk and invest in the exploration of new mineral deposit in the country.
Zimbabwe has a very long mining history but there are many areas that have not been scientifically investigated.
Millions of hectares of mining claims are held by small to medium scale miners and exploration would boost the value of such claims and in turn increase small miners’ wealth.
It is crucial for the country to know the value of what lies in the ground.
As the country slowly depletes its major existing mines, discovery of new mines becomes increasingly important to meet the ever growing global demand for mineral resources.