Exploration key to mining growth

A very rare deep blue Euclase specimen from Zimbabwe - the best locality in the world for the mineral known as the “Stone of Happiness”

A very rare deep blue Euclase specimen from Zimbabwe – the best locality in the world for the mineral known as the “Stone of Happiness”

Tinashe Makichi: Mining Matrix

Zimbabwe’s mining sector has the potential to make significant contribution to the country’s growth over the medium to long-term.Zimbabwe is a mineral rich country with great potential for further discoveries. The country has a huge and highly diversified mineral resource base dominated by two prominent geological features namely the Great Dyke and ancient Greenstone Belts also known as Gold Belts.

About 60 percent of Zimbabwe’s land is said to comprise ancient rocks renowned worldwide for hosting rich varieties of minerals resources including gold, base metals (for example nickel, copper, zinc and lead) and industrial minerals (limestone, phosphates, clay and dolomites). Zimbabwe has got the second largest deposits of platinum in the world.

However, the picture of the mining sector’s contribution to economic growth in the long term remains unclear because so little has been done in terms of exploration to quantify the mineral reserves we have.

Exploration remains the cog of any mining sector across the world.

Generally, mineral exploration and development are investigative activities to locate and determine extent of resource prior to mining. The rewards of successful exploration and development can be large if a mineral deposit is discovered, evaluated, and developed into a mine.

For a mining company, successful exploration and development leads to increased profits while for a local community or nation, successful mineral exploration and development can lead to jobs creation, infrastructure development in areas such as roads and electric power supplies.

Zimbabwe strongly recognises the importance and developmental contribution of exploration to the mining sector growth but due to lack of funds most exploration activities have been failing to take off.

Government has already formed an exploration company, the Mineral Exploration and Promotion Corporation mandated to find new mineral deposits which it can also use as security for fresh lines of credit.

It is critical that the Mineral Exploration and Promotion Corporation starts executing its mandate taking into cognisance the importance of exploration not only in the mining sector, but other downstream industries.

“While the Mineral Exploration Promotion Corporation is being set up to replace the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, prime focus is placed on mineral exploration,” said President Robert Mugabe while officially opening the Second Session of the Eight Parliament last year.

The exploration company was resourced up to board level and financed to the tune of $5 million to enable it to commence operations.

This was a welcome development. But since the idea of the Mineral Exploration and Promotion Corporation was announced, nothing tangible has happened.

It has taken long for the exploration company to be functional yet the country expects mining to drive growth in the short to medium term.

Growth of the mining industry in the medium to long term depends on the ability to attract investment into current and new projects, as well as investments into key infrastructure fundamental to sustainable development of mining that is power and railroad transportation.

All this can be achieved if Government in conjunction with other big mining houses takes a huge leap towards making sure that exploration becomes the order of the day. Exploration is the missing link in Zimbabwe’s mining sector growth.

If Government had done the required explanatory work in the Chiadzwa area, more earnings would have been achieved from the country’s diamonds.

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