Zimbabwe Limits Artisanal Mining in Rich Mineral Zones

Zimbabwe's government is reserving certain mineral-rich areas for large-scale mining operations, sparking concerns from small-scale miners

by Victor Adetimilehin

The government announced the policy shift in response to questions from a Member of Parliament (MP) regarding the suspension of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs). EPOs grant individuals or companies exclusive rights to explore for specific minerals in a designated area.

Prioritizing Large-Scale Mining for Tax Revenue

Deputy Mines Minister Polite Kambamura explained that the government aims to control highly mineralized zones for large-scale mining developments. This strategy prioritizes tax revenue generation for the state.

“The Minister [of Mines] has put some reservations over those areas so that we control highly mineralized zones for large-scale development,” Kambamura said in parliament.

The move has drawn criticism from some artisanal miners who argue they are being excluded from lucrative opportunities.

An EPO typically lasts for three years, with a maximum renewal period of three additional years. The recent suspension of EPO applications and the government’s focus on large-scale mining have caused frustration among artisanal miners who rely on EPOs to secure mining rights.

“Our people are not allowed to peg on those suspended EPO areas,” said MP Felix Maburutse, expressing concerns on behalf of his constituents.

Limited Options for Artisanal Miners

The Deputy Minister offered a glimmer of hope for artisanal miners seeking to operate in these restricted zones. He indicated that miners can apply for “special approval” from the Ministry of Mines. However, such approvals may be subject to stricter monitoring and oversight.

“If anyone was willing to peg on those areas, he/she can write to the ministry for special approval,” Kambamura said.

The lack of clarity surrounding the application process for special approval is a source of concern for artisanal miners. They worry that the process may be complex, bureaucratic, or biased towards larger mining companies.

Furthermore, artisanal miners argue that they can play a significant role in Zimbabwe’s economic development. They highlight their ability to generate income at the local level and contribute to poverty reduction, particularly in rural areas.

Balancing Revenue and Livelihoods

The Zimbabwean government’s decision to prioritize large-scale mining in resource-rich areas highlights the ongoing debate over resource allocation and economic development strategies. While large-scale mining can generate significant tax revenue for the government, artisanal mining provides a livelihood for many Zimbabweans, particularly in rural areas.

Finding a sustainable balance between these competing interests will be crucial for the future of the mining sector in Zimbabwe. The government may need to consider establishing a framework that allows for both large-scale and artisanal mining in a way that maximizes revenue generation while also ensuring equitable opportunities and environmental sustainability.

Transparency and clear communication from the Ministry of Mines will be essential in addressing the concerns of artisanal miners. The ministry should outline a clear and fair process for applying for special approval in restricted mining zones. Additionally, engaging with artisanal miners’ associations and representatives can help to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs are considered in future policy decisions.

Source: New Zimbabwe


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