Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
ARTISANAL and small-scale miners are appealing to Government to develop programmes that assist them with exploration for mineral deposits so that they can positively contribute to the US$12 billion mining industry target by 2023.
Exploration is a range of activities to help determine if there are minerals under the ground.
If the exploration process identifies minerals that can be commercially extracted, then mining in the future may be possible.
Chairperson of the Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa, said exploration was important for miners as it creates certainty where people are to invest their mining efforts.
“Specifically artisanal and small-scale miners may lack the skill and financial resources to explore since it is expensive.
“They therefore search for the mineral in the process of mining, with both successes and failures since it’s all gambling. High precision is necessary and the best way is exploration and Government has better capacity to do that.
“Such exploration further reduces instances where the natural environment is being destroyed indiscriminately as whatever mining that will be carried out will be more targeted,” he said.
He said Government should consider exploration of vast tracts of land as information was key once exploration is done.
Hon Mkaratigwa said Government interventions for exploration could also aid the formalisation of artisanal and small-scale miners.
“In terms of formalisation, we have raised this issue and it is getting traction in Government.
“What we are grappling with is to fully understand the formalisation model that Zimbabwe should adopt with respect to this group of miners as a means to fully unlock value of the assets in addition to the known merits of the move.”
In an interview, Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) Matabeleland North chairperson Ms Jane Lusinga who is a miner in Bubi District said exploration was key for them as miners.
“Most artisanal and small-scale miners cannot afford to undertake exploration in areas that they are mining due to its high costs. This has resulted in haphazard digging in search of the minerals.
“However, we are calling upon Government to come to miners’ assistance by setting up programmes that can aid them to undertake exploration in their areas of operation.”
She said exploration programmes would also go a long was in preserving the environment as artisanal and small-scale miners will desist from digging everywhere in search of minerals.
Echoing the same sentiments, a miner in Gwanda District, Mr Philimon Mokuele who is the director of Ditlou Mining Investment and ZMF Matabeleland South chairperson said exploration was one of the critical steps that will expand the life of a mine.
“The life of a mining operation is often partitioned into linear stages, with exploration, development and production being the three major phases. Exploration and development do not end once production begins.
“Exploration and development activities are essential for growing a mineable resource base and sustaining production to keep the mill running at full capacity, while also extending mine life,” he said.
The mining industry is one of the country’s economic mainstays with the sector contributing about 70 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings.