Mines and Mining Development Minister Mr Walter Chidhakwa has revealed that the Government is not aware of the mineral reserves Zimbabwe has due to lack of full scale exploration.
He was speaking after the announcement last week that Government’s exploration vehicle, the Mining Exploration Promotions Company (MEPC) will early next year begin the first phase of diamond, gold and coal bed methane gas exploration countrywide following the provision of US$3 million by treasury. Since the beginning of the year, Government has been mobilising funds to revive the exploration exercise following concerns form local and foreign investors over the absence of latest and reliable data on mineral reserves across the country.
“We have not done a full scale exercise in the field of exploration. We are not aware of the mineral reserves we have in Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We have diamond kimberlitic pipes, gold reserves and coal bed methane gas but the major impediment we are facing is that we do not know the value of these minerals. In short, the country is losing millions of dollars in potential revenue by delaying the operations of the MEPC.
“The Ministry has now finalised amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act hence the MEPC becomes operational. So Treasury has allocated us US$3 million from budget.
“That money will be set aside for the operations of the MEPC and it will commence its first phase in the exploration of gold, diamonds and coal methane gas reserves early next year.”
Mr Chidhakwa said MEPC would also get additional funding from the Minerals Markieting Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).
In October last year, government approved the transformation of the MMCZ into an exploration company in a bid to boost the growth of the country’s mining industry.
The transformation exercise will enable government to curb mineral leakages and non-declaration of export receipts by mining companies.
Unofficial reports point that the country is sitting on at least 200 diamond kimberlitic pipes.
Diamond experts say an exploration exercise, in the diamond sector, will enable the country to sale gems on the internationals markets rather than the coated rough diamonds being sold currently.
In the gold sector, reports of syndicates fuelling the illegal smuggling of the yellow metal has also seen the country losing millions of dollars since government has no database on the gold reserves dotted around the country.
Similary, it is estimated that the Hwange — Lupane basins have over 23 billion cubic feet per square mile or 27 trillion cubic feet of sulphur free methane gas, but no officials study has been conducted.