Small scale miners, EPOs in collision

Small Scale miners are on collision course with the mines ministry over the introduction of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) arguing that co-existence with them has failed to be a reality on the ground.

In an interview with Zimmorning Post one artisan miner, Rawlings Mlambo said EPOs are derailing productivity through blocking them from pegging mines.

“EPOs have completely blocked us here in Matebeleland South and all over the country from pegging mines and this is affecting production in the country,” he said.

Mlambo said Nicolas Ncube’s Laduma Investments is one of the companies blocking artisan miners in Mat South.

“The government must stop the EPOs or establish co-existence between them and artisan miners. Laduma Investments is one of the examples of companies blocking miners here in Mat South,” he said.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation Spokesperson Dosman Mangisi said that one of the reasons for objecting to the EPOs applications was that some of the applications covered residential areas.

EPOs are used by companies as first pass exploration areas and they last for three years.

 This means that companies after doing the highly technical exploration studies will eventually drop most of the EPO ground in 3 years.

Usually, companies will in most cases eventually remain with less than 1000 hectares for mining operations that is if they find an economic mineral deposit in the EPO.

Another artisan miner said they are afraid that the EPOs are constantly turning Zimbabwe into a Capitalist state.

“I advise fellow countrymen not to go to the moon about this for that is what you call capitalism. The people with capital get what they want and sway government, but we don’t give up the fight.

“Those EPOs are against miners and every ordinary Zimbabwean who is interested to venture into mining.”

 “As long as Zimbabwe’s perceived country risk is still up there, EPOs will never translate to any meaningful capital investment,” he said.

Small scale miners are afraid that the companies holding EPOs might end up privatising data.

“EPOs are being held for speculation and or conditional future investment and of the investiments to be made in exploration, well we all know that is always going to be private data just as RioZim, De Beers, Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) among others have kept geological data hidden since 1965, these new EPOs will privatise the data,” he said

Zimbabwe plans to grow mineral revenue from a projected 4,2 Billion this year to 12 Billion by 2023.

The informal and formal mining sectors play a role in boosting the national revenue.