The Government of Zimbabwe in December 2015 published a draft bill targeted at promoting exploration and marketing of minerals. The Bill has caused excitement in the market.
The Bill has the following impact:-
- It repeals the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 21.04 which is the current legislation in respect of the marketing of mineral
- For the first time it regulates mineral exploration
- With the exception of gold, all minerals must be sold through the Minerals Exploration & Marketing Corporation (the Corporation), the successor of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe. The name change is of course tailored to encompass its new role in exploration.
- The Corporation will be tasked with spearheading the exploration for minerals in Zimbabwe - an area in which the country has fallen far behind other African nations. Government is anxious to ascertain the minerals available, their quantity and quality for three reasons: to guarantee the future of mining in the country, to use mineral resource as collateral in loan arrangements and to lure international investors.
However the Bill deals with two extreme ends of the mining cycle – exploration and marketing - but fails to address the entire mining process. Many argue that information and intelligence acquired from either activity is not necessarily useful to the other in the absence of an appreciation of the other processes, namely exploitation and processing, that occur between exploration and marketing. To that extent there is fear that there might be discord in the operations of the Corporation or that it may not be as effective as envisaged.
That said, focus on exploration is a positive move and bodes well for mining especially if the intentions are to grow the industry. Caution must however be taken as exploration is an expensive exercise, which the Government may not be able to fund.
All in all, the Bill is a positive step towards the growth of the mining sector. Parliament is expected to discuss the Bill and pass it into law within the first half of 2016.