Editor's Comment

Mineral wealth must be unveiled

AN open pit mine.

THE Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development has issued hundreds of prospecting licences to several local and foreign mining firms.
Surprisingly, prospecting by some firms has gone on for decades without any results.
This is so in districts like Mumbwa and other places where prospecting for gold and diamonds has seemingly become an endless exercise.
About three decades ago, people in Chama and Lundazi were overwhelmed by the prospecting of gold in the area.
Chama and Lundazi were then endowed with precious stones which attracted several foreigners from the Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa.
The arrival of a multi-national firm prospecting for gold was welcomed by local people because it offered them hope for jobs and economic expansion of the area.
We have also heard about oil exploration in Zambia in the North-Western Province and now Luapula.
Prospecting and exploration implies looking or searching for valuable mineral resources which the investor may wish to mine and extract and process and export if the said mineral has potential or economic value.
Exploration or prospecting is a feasibility exercise which is carried out before actual mining starts or takes place.
The prospecting activities are hugely expensive and require advanced technological know-how. Added to this is the managerial ability that it goes with. In fact, the advancement of technology has significantly shortened the process of prospecting.
Furthermore, the values of minerals are determined by the global markets factors acting on the basis of demand and supply.
So the investor has several factors to follow before the firm invest in a particular mining enterprise in Zambia.
However, endless prospecting has forced Government to direct all mining companies operating without valid mining, mineral processing and mineral trading licences to stop conducting these activities with effect from this week.
Government has said the mining, mineral processing and trading companies are required to report whatever they mine, import or export to the relevant authorities, hence the need for all companies to have licences.
Beyond that, we believe that the Ministry of Mines has the relevant technical expertise to monitor and collect the necessary data in order to ensure full accountability of all the minerals and precious stones mined in Zambia.
The ministry should have a data base where it maintains all the records of minerals that have been extracted and processed.
This is necessary in order to determine the net worth of the value chain of the mineral resources extracted and exported from Zambia.
Minerals of all kinds have high market value and therefore it is the key responsibility of the Ministry to assist the Zambia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance to determine the actual value of the minerals that have been extracted, processed and exported from Zambian mines for purposes of in-putting in the gross domestic product (GDP).
Government is required to monitor and keep proper economic records for purposes of determining the GDP.
Government has a duty to collect and analyse data in order to ensure that the mining industry is compliant, and determine the net value of the exportable minerals.
These are some of the factors that make prospecting or exploration an ongoing exercise.
But surely there must be an end or change of status for any activity. Zambia cannot continue singing about being endowed with mineral wealth when these riches are not sufficiently benefiting the citizens.

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