AT the beginning of this month, the country’s biggest ferrochrome miner released 50 percent of its claims to Government.
Although Zimbabwe has the the second largest chrome deposits in the world, however, for the past years 80 percent of the deposits have been in claims held by two multinational companies, Zimasco and Zim Alloys.
This development must enable Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to meet some of its objectives chief among them ensuring that there is increased mineral output which in turn should promote foreign currency inflows through mineral exports.
It should be noted that most of the claims ceded to Government by Zimasco were dormant for some time meaning this was potential revenue that had remained untapped which could have benefited the local community and country as a whole.
What happened at Zimasco must also guide other mining companies in Zimbabwe. Most foreign and big mining companies operating in Zimbabwe hold claims which are very rich but conduct their mining businesses on very small areas of those claims. Some are holding onto these claims for speculation.
These companies must do the honourable thing and cede these claims that are lying idle to the Government so that it can allocate them to other players who have the urgency and capacity to exploit them for the benefit of the country.
Right now Zimbabwe is in the middle of implementing its economic blueprint, Zim Asset but it can not succeed if the resources that are supposed to support it are not fully exploited.
If the mining companies that are holding these claims are not willing to cede them to Government, then they must exploit them or at least show plans that they need to exploit them so that the country can benefit.
On the other hand, after reclaiming the mining claims, it is also very important for Government to handle or create, develop and initiate a programme that will see mining being set into motion.
In this endeavour, it is important and ideal to put workable plans that will ensure that every citizen benefits.
Such issues like gender balance must be looked into when allocating the claims.
Furthermore, it is also prudent that Government equip beneficiaries with the requisite mining skills to ensure that they can fully utilise the mineral through the right channels.
They can also be taught marketing before and after mining. In order to attain better results, the Government can also try to consider putting into place a firm and sound mining format and structure so as to lure foreign investors into venturing into partnerships with locals.
The foreigners will bring the equipment to carry out the mining. They will also bring the technology needed for effective mining as well as setting refineries that can process the minerals into finished products.
This will also help Government achieve one of its aims as espoused in Zim Asset to beneficiate minerals and reap more rewards unlike in the current setup where most of the minerals are exported as raw or semi-processed.
The exporting of raw minerals has prejudiced the country on potential revenue.
Lastly, to those who will be allocated the chrome mining claims, this is time to take advantage and work hard so that they prove detractors wrong. They must carry out the mining in the most effective and correct manner.
Effective mining will also ensure that the miners can develop their lives as well as that of the communities and the country as a whole.
Miners can also form co-operatives to ensure that they pool resources to increase productivity.
This can also help them when they want to buy mining equipment as it will lessen the burden of acquiring such tools as individuals.
Mining by locals have also has their fair share of controversy especially on issues to do with labour. There are reports of exploitation and low wages among some locally owned mines.
The Government must also monitor new miners to ensure that mining workers are rewarded accordingly and there is no abuse of workers.
Some investors or financiers also have a reputation of shortchanging mineral producers, usually or particularly on tribute agreements, a situation which ends up seeing the producer getting far less in terms of remuneration. Local buyers also have a tendency of buying minerals, limiting the sectors particularly in chrome, and this in turn affects those working on the mineral, hindering growth of the sub sector.
Here is a mining tip to promote production consistency and it is focused on mine pumps and drainage because the downward, percolation and accumulation of surface water mainly from rains or water encountered in deep seated sources such as underground water tables is a persistent problem in many mines to the point that some mining operations have been stopped.
So we will look into the two main methods of resolving the problem. The installation of water extracting pumps capacity is enough to maintain a workable mining environment respectively. Another method though conventional but applicable to those limited in terms of finance to either purchase or lease water pumping equipment, is in the creation or establishment of drainage tunnels. Drainage tunnels are frequently driven or dug at adjacent levels or lower than the working levels. Ideally, such tunnels may also serve as development, ventilation and haulage tunnels, but it is also important to ensure that these drainage tunnels are developed on strong and sound rock formations in order not to affect the entire underground tunnel systems’ strength.