KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
OUT of the 127 mining licences issued to companies for manganese operations in Luapula and Northern provinces, only 15 firms are actively involved.
And Government has started cancelling licences of some dormant entities that have held on to titles without making any significant development to their respective project areas.
In an interview in Samfya last Friday, Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development learner surveyor for Luapula and Northern mineral bureau Wynter Nkhata said a mining licence is deemed to be active when licence fees had been paid.
Mr Nkhata said Government has been issuing various mining licences to companies and individuals including small-scale mining, small-scale prospecting, artisanal mining rights and large-scale prospecting and mining.
“But only 127 licences are active, and of these, only 15 are doing mining operations and they are mainly small-scale and artisanal mines. The large-scale ones are still carrying out exploration works,” he said.
Notable large-scale companies undertaking exploration works with intentions to establish open-cast mines include MMRP mining limited, Musamu Resources, PLR limited and ZAMAN 3 Limited.
When asked why the manganese mining sub-sector is not expanding and most firms are still at exploration stages, Mr Nkhata cited inadequate capital injection and lower prices for the commodity on market.
“Mining requires huge capital and it is labour intensive with huge operation costs, also prices are very low with a tonne selling as low as K300 locally.
“These small mines do not even have processing or treatment plants, all they do is to mine, load on trucks and take to final destination. Only Genesis had a processing plant but they are not active,” he said.
On illegal mining, Mr Nkhata said the vice is somehow difficult to control because some deposits are found on people’s farmlands.
He, however, said Government is taking measures to address the challenge through cancellation of dormant licences.