The Sunday Mail
WOMEN in mining are appealing to the Government for consideration in the allocation of mining claims to promote investment into the sector by female entrepreneurs.
At the moment, although women have managed to penetrate the previously male-dominated sector, a majority of them do not have own mining claims and are working on concessions or titles owned by their male counterparts.
Speaking by telephone from Shurugwi last Friday, Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) national secretary for women affairs, Ms Jescah Mazivazvose, said lack of entitlement to mining concessions by women was limiting their potential.
“As women in mining, we have a number of challenges, but the most critical one is largely lack of recognition in the allocation of mining claims.
“More so, because we don’t own the claims, it becomes very difficult for us to invest into mining and we end up living from hand-to-mouth which otherwise should not be the case.
“It is critical for the Government to allocate some of the idle claims to women so that they have full entitlement to the titles,” she said.
The Government has adopted the use-it or lose-it policy, which aims to repossess all idle or underutilised mining claims to boost output in the sector.
Through the Mines and Minerals Act, the Government is empowered to repossess unused mining concessions and reallocate them to investors capable of developing productive operations.
Last year, more than 80 mining titles out of the 213 underutilised mining claims were repossessed under the first phase of the programme.
The initiative, although ongoing, is being weighed down by some title-holders who have approached the courts to obstruct the process. In recent years, concerns have been raised over underutilised mining titles which owners in different sub-sectors such as gold, chrome, and coal, among others have been holding onto for speculative reasons.
“As women, we are saying even if we can be allocated the mining titles or blocks in groups, that would go a long way in promoting an all-inclusive-economic empowerment programme in line with the President’s thrust that no-one and no place should be left behind as we move towards Vision 2030,” she said.
The Second Republic, under President Mnangagwa, envisages an upper middle-income economy status by 2030 where the Gross Domestic Product per capita would be US$3 500.
Added Ms Mazivazvose: “The claims or concessions that we are working on are owned by our male counterparts or companies. And as we work on such claims, the owners ask us to remit a certain percentage of whatever we produce from the operations.
“For example, we are asked to surrender between 30 percent and 50 percent of whatever we produce, which is also limiting our efforts and participation in the previously male-dominated sector.”
“Mining is a business which also needs one to invest in so that there is growth and development of the business. But as things stand, we are finding it difficult to even borrow money for investment into the operations because the claims are not ours.
“Thus, we are appealing to the Government to consider us in the allocation of these mining claims.”
Ms Mazivazvose said every year there is a forfeiture list that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development comes up with, and women in mining can be allocated some mining titles from such a list.
In a recent interview, chairperson of the Gwanda-based Mthandazo Women Miners Association, Ms Sithembile Ndlovu, echoed similar sentiments, adding that the Government should consider allocating some of the Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) to women in mining.
“We also hear that there are EPOs (Exclusive Prospecting Orders) that the Government plans to release, our appeal to the Government is to let there be a certain quota of the EPOs reserved for allocation to women and youths in mining.
“This will ensure that everyone participates in the economic development of the country in line with Vision 2030. The President has unequivocally stated that no-one and no place must be left behind as the country journeys towards Vision 2030,” she said.
EPOs give sole rights to prospect for specified minerals in any identified location within Zimbabwe and are critical in allowing international mineral explorers to scan through the country in search of minerals and producing bankable exploration results that attract investment.
The country has a vast mineral resource base some of which are yet to be explored.
It is in this context that the Second Republic was pinning hopes on to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry by next year.
Coming from a low base of US$2,7 billion in 2017, the mining industry’s value of earnings last year clocked US$5,3 billion.
This is on account of investments into the sector through the opening of existing and new mines, expansion projects as well as increased exploration in different sub-sectors.
This year, the Government projects the value of mineral earnings to reach US$8 billion.