The government has started canceling Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) that are not exploring mineralized areas for large-scale production within the mining sector, Great Dyke News 24 reports.
Speaking during the Minex Northen Region expo held in Glendale recently, the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development Dr. Polite Kambamura exposed challenges encountered by small-scale miners saying EPO holders demanding tribute from these miners will be penalized.
“I think we are all in an argument that the greater part of the country is currently covered under EPOs, some of these EPOs are not performing and we have started canceling those EPOs that are not performing.
“The purpose of an EPO is to explore and find highly mineralized areas for large-scale expectation. We have noticed the other speculators who are applying for EPOs get those EPOs instead of doing that work they start selling mineralized zones within those EPOs.
“They are taking the small-scale miners as exploration agents. When a small-scale miner discovers a gold mine and goes to the EPO holder asking for consent, the EPO holder is asking for money or a joint venture or tribute which is not allowed and such perpetrators are going to be brought to book when the government discovers that we are going to cancel that EPO.
“The EPOs that we are approving are conditional EPOs with a condition to give consent to small-scale miners. So if you go to any EPO holder asking for money please let us know. We have the option to cancel that EPO and open that area for the public pack,” he said.
He highlighted that the government has reviewed its legislation in the Mines and Minerals Bill currently awaiting to be gazetted saying EPOs will be granted to persons with full production capacity.
“I would like to appreciate the great work that the small sector is doing in support of our $12 billion mining sector by the year 2023 vision where gold will be contributing about 4 billion. We believe there is still a lot to be done to minimise gold leakages from the country through the sealing of our borders and also a review of our legislation.
“The Mines and Minerals Bill is almost done and is currently awaiting gazetting, after gazetting then there will be stakeholder consultation to be brought to parliament then His Excellency will sign it into law.
“We have also reviewed our legislation in the upcoming Mines and Minerals Bill to say that anyone who will be applying for an EPO should show proof of capacity or proof of funding to explore that area someone who applies for 60 000hectares there’s nothing in his account, we will not approve such.
“For all these big mines to be in place, it was a result of EPOs that were used productively and responsibly so we are looking for those quality investors who have the capacity to develop mining assets through EPOs. We have started canceling EPOs in other provinces soon we will be here in Mashonaland Central Province,” he added.
An Exclusive Prospecting Order is issued in terms of Part VI of the Mines and Minerals Act (Chapter 21:05), (“the Act”) of Zimbabwe. It confers exclusive rights to prospect for specified minerals in any identified location in the country. The EPOs are in line with the government’s ambition to develop a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.