EPOs driving investments in mining exploration: Govt

By Mthokozisi Dube

THE Government has stepped up efforts to attract investment in the mining sector through exclusive prospecting orders for exploration work.

With huge tracts of land placed under exclusive prospecting orders (EPOs), small scale miners were claiming that the orders are making it difficult for them to acquire mining licences.

However, the government has come out clean, explaining that exclusive prospecting orders are not for mining but are there to promote investment in exploration work as alluded to by Midlands Provincial Mining Director, Tariro Ndhlovu.

“There is a big misconception of what EPOs represent. They are normally issued to big investing companies interested to undertake exploration. An EPO is not for mining, it is for conducting exploration work and according to our Mines and Minerals Act chapter 21.05, when an EPO is issued you find out that it is issued to one entity and that entity is mandated to do what they told the government they want to do,” said Ndhlovu.

“EPOs are not new in fact it is the only way in which big can do work that can result in big projects but when it comes to pegging rights by small scale miners, it is a thorny issue but small scale miners can negotiate with EPO holders. Miners can apply for partial withdrawal from those EPOs or you can be permitted to peg under the name of the company.”

Midlands province boasts of two-thirds of the Great Dyke, one of the key geological features endowed with various minerals.

The province is targeting to contribute significantly to the national target of a US$12 billion mining economy by 2023.