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Govt grants new EPOs

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

GOVERNMENT has issued 25 exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs) across the country, giving mining firms the rights to prospect for minerals over the next three years.

Each of the EPOs cover 65 000 hectares, according to the Government Gazette.

Issued by the Mining Affairs Board, EPOs confer exclusive rights to holders to prospect for minerals. The EPOs are in line with Zimbabwe’s ambition to develop a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.

However, there has been disquiet among an estimated 1,5 million small-scale and artisanal miners who have complained that EPOs now cover the whole country.

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Once a place is classified as an EPO, small-scale miners cannot peg their titles in that area.

The small-scale miners said many EPOs had been idle for many years.

“It is hereby notified that the Minister of Mines and Mining Development (Winston Chitando), with authorisation from the President, has, in terms of section 90(2) of the Mines and Minerals Act issued exclusive prospecting order number 1760 to Canlite Mineral Exploration, for a period of three years with effect from March 12, 2021 to March 11, 2024 inclusive,” the Government Gazette
read.

Canlite was also granted EPOs 1762, 1763 and 1764 in Matabeleland South province.

In addition, authorities gave Pearline Mineral Exploration EPO 1765, covering the same period.

“It is hereby notified that the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, with authorisation from the President, has, in terms of Section 90(2) of the Mines and Minerals Act issued exclusive prospecting order No 1765 to Pearline Mineral Exploration for a period of three years with effect from March 12, 2021 to March 11, 2024, inclusive.”

EPOs were also granted to Infield Mineral Exploration, Triminzim, Auriga Mineral Exploration, Sinamatella Investments, Zimthai Tantalum and Zulu Lithium, which has been aggressively exploring for lithium reserves in the country.

Zimbabwe Prospectors Union president Samson Dzingwe told NewsDay Business that it was worrisome that there were EPOs which had been idle for a long time.

“Almost 80% of the whole country has been blanketed by these EPO applications,” he said.

“But these applications which have been approved are just a drop in an ocean. We have been waiting for about 15 years without any action. So we would like to know about those which have taken 15 years to be approved. Were they rejected? This is a major concern,” he added.

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Artisanal and Small-scale Miners Association chairperson Blessing Togarepi said it was worrisome that almost the whole country was now under EPOs.

“We are concerned that most of the country is now under EPOs. We urge prospective small-scale miners to make an effort to peg mines before the whole country is covered by EPOs,” Togarepi said.

NEWSDAY