Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Senior Reporter
Manicaland could be losing significant revenue from mining through under-exploration of the available minerals in the resource-rich province, Provincial Affairs Minister Mandi Chimene has said.
In an interview with The Herald Eastern Edition, Minister Chimene said the province was one of the richest in terms of mineral resources.
“Manicaland has a problem of focusing on one thing and ignoring the rest,” she said. “This province has many minerals that are not being explored. It seems everyone is waiting for someone to start exploration of those minerals before they can also follow suit.”
According to a report on the mining industry in Manicaland, the province has more than 20 registered minerals, but exploration of most of these has been low. The report states that the province has 1 361 gold claims spread across Mutasa, Makoni, Nyanga and Chimanimani districts.
Besides these, there are 430 tantalite claims in Odzi, while 375 claims of copper and 44 of granite are registered in Headlands, under Makoni District.
There are also 62 iron ore claims in Mutasa. Other minerals found in the province include lead, which has only 22 registered claims, limestone (20 claims), marble (16 claims), phosphates and verdite (12 claims each) and vermiculite (15 claims).
Arsenic, bauxite, bentonite, beryl, carbonatites, kyanite, lepidolite, olivine, quartz, tungsten, vanadium, scheelite and chrysoprase all have less than 10 claims each across the province.
“These are not the only minerals found in Manicaland,” said Minister Chimene.
“If miners focus on exploring these minerals and more, imagine how much the province stands to gain.
“We would have more revenue coming to us from the sale of such minerals.”
In the past, exploration and illegal mining activities by artisanal miners led to discovery of new mineral belts in the province. Government has since put in place modalities to transform the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) into an exploration company.
It is expected, among other things, to quantify the country’s mineral reserves and deposits.
According to last year’s State of the Mining Industry Report, Zimbabwe’s extractive industry is heavily under-explored, as the country generates over 90 percent of its total mineral output value from only five minerals.
The major reasons cited for under-exploration are antiquated machinery, high cost of electricity, high royalty rates and procurement costs, as well as high labour costs coupled with a lack of capital.
Zimbabwe’s royalty rates are among the highest in the Sadc region.