BUTTYSON KANDIMBA, Solwezi
GOVERNMENT, through the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development has issued about 600 small-scale mining licences to various firms across
Director of Mines Mooya Lumamba said in an interview here yesterday out of the 600, only about 100 licences for some mining firms are currently active countrywide.
“So currently, we are undertaking a serious audit on these mines. We want to know where they are and what they are doing. Some of them have not been operational for more than three years. So, they qualify to have their licences cancelled,” Mr Lumamba said.
He said the ministry was sensitising large mining companies on the Mineral Value Chain Monitoring Project (MVCMP) and would soon start engaging small-scale mining companies so that they are captured on the system.
Mr Lumamba also said it is illegal for a firm issued with an exploration licence to start engaging in mining and that the ministry will not hesitate to revoke licences for such firms.
“If you are a holder of an exploration licence, you are not supposed to mine, and if you are a holder of the same exploration licence, the first thing you need to do is an environmental impact assessment for exploration then you can start doing your exploration,” he said.
“Now when you want to graduate into mining, you have to do an environmental impact assessment for mining and then you can start mining. So, if there is anyone who is doing mining on an exploration permit that is illegal and if that knowledge comes to our attention we are supposed to default that licence,” he said.
Mr Lumamba also said Government has constituted a high-level committee, which is looking into the issue of expatriates being engaged to work in the mines.
And Mineworkers, Union of Zambia (MUZ) general secretary Joseph Chewe has appealed to Government to continue monitoring the operations of mining companies by conducting regular audits to ascertain their profitability and stop the unnecessary hire of expatriate labour for jobs that can competently be done by Zambians.
“Mining companies should also ensure sustainability of the sector and protect jobs by cutting costs in other areas of operations as retrenchments have an effect on individual households and the economy in general,” Mr Chewe said.