Govt hailed for parcelling out EPOs
Oliver Kazunga-Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has commended the Government for issuing Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) to large-scale miners saying this would fortify economic development and boost production in the mining industry.
EPOs confer exclusive rights to prospect for specific minerals in any identified location and allow investors to explore the country for minerals and produce bankable exploration results that can attract investment.
The mining sector is expected to grow to a US$12 billion economy by the end of this year from US$2,7 billion in 2018 prior to the launch of the sector’s strategic roadmap in 2019.
The envisaged growth trajectory is premised on increased exploration activities culminating in the opening of new mines, expansion of existing mines, and the re-opening of closed mines leading to improved production, employment creation and the uplifting of living standards of communities in Zimbabwe.
In the past few years, the Government issued a significant number of EPOs to potential local and foreign investors with interest in different resources including strategic minerals like lithium, gold, platinum, and diamond.
Such investors include the State-owned mining group, Kuvimba Mining House as well as the United Kingdom-based mining group’s Premier African Minerals and Galileo Resources.
Following the issuance of EPOs to large-scale potential investors, there have been reports that the small-scale mining industry was being sidelined despite the critical role small-scale miners play in economic development.
In an interview, ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya whose organisation is the mother body of all small-scale mining operations in the country said the granting of EPOs to large-scale miners is a noble cause towards promoting economic growth and development in line with the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS 1) and Vision 2030.
“First and foremost, the issuance of EPOs is a noble idea because the country has to grow and an Exclusive Prospecting Order is an order which is given and can be reviewed after three years.
“So, giving an EPO to a company if it justifies it has the capacity and potential to develop then there is nothing wrong with that.
“Look at companies like Zimplats, it has taken them 10 to 15 years to explore for mineral resources in the Ngezi area and this has led to the establishment of Zimplats.
“People should not shun the EPOs issue because they (EPOs) are there to help develop the country, to increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Once exploration has been done extensively it results in the birth of big conglomerates and our people have been gainfully employed by those companies that would be domiciled in those particular areas,” she said.
Through EPOs, large mining houses such as Zimasco have secured mining rights along the Great Dyke belt that cuts across from Mberengwa in Midlands province to Mutorashanga in Mashonaland West province.
Ms Rushwaya said once an investor has been granted an EPO, they are entitled to an exclusive prospecting right over that particular area for a period of three years.
“And when investors explore and establish the area that they want to undertake mining operations and the land that they do not require over that particular EPO, that unwanted portion of the land is relinquished allowing the Government to put a public notice that a particular area is now free for pegging. What’s actually in existence is if somebody is a holder of an EPO and if you are interested in a particular area within their EPO interest, you are always allowed to approach them and in agreement they can give you what we call mining rights within their EPO in the form of a tribute.
“You are allowed to tribute an EPO with the consent of the EPO holder,” she said.
The mining industry accounts for 83 percent of exports, 73 percent foreign direct investment, 19 percent of the Government’s revenues, 11 percent of individual incomes, two percent of formal employment and by 2030, the sector is expected to generate more than US$20 billion.