The Zimbabwean government commissioned a Canadian company to do exploration work covering the entire spectrum of the country’s mineral wealth but the company disappeared without giving the government the results.
Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo said the government has been unable to access the results for “various reasons”.
“I frankly have not been able to see the contract that we signed with the Canadian company. I know that the Canadian company left the country in a bit of a huff for reasons that I am not sure about, whether they were either political or economic. We are not getting responses from them and we are simply not able to get the information sent back to us,” he told Parliament last week.
Asked why the government did not approach the Canadian embassy because the country could not allow its wealth to be in the hands of foreigners, Moyo said this had already been done but without success.
Q & A:
MR. HLONGWANE: My question is directed to the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. It is common knowledge that in order to unlock value in the extractive sector, in the mining industry, it is important to establish the resource by way of exploration. It is my understanding that Government has previously engaged a company to conduct exploration in this country for various minerals in order to establish the various resource quantities. But, those results have never been made available, yet in our current economic situation that is the missing link. My question is, what is Government’s policy with regards to accessing those results and what is the way forward as far as establishing the mineral resource in this country is concerned in order to unlock value in our extractive industry? Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF MINES AND MINING DEVELOPMENT (MR. F. MOYO): Thank you Mr. Speaker. There are two questions that the hon. member raises. The first question is one of whether we have had exploration work done by a company and we have not received the results.
It is obviously Government policy that if we engage in contracts with third parties for work to be done by Government, we must make sure that we can execute the demands of those contracts. I can confirm that there are two cases where a Canadian company was hired by Government to do exploration work covering the entire spectrum of our mineral portfolio. I also confirm that we are unable to access the results that emanated from that exercise for various reasons. There is also work that was done by other oil companies whose results were given to us but without full analysis. We are trying to analyse those results so that we can confirm what that work, in fact has indicated with regard to mineral endowment.
The second point of the question that the member raises is with regard to exploration work. It is policy that we should carry out exploration work and create a mineral balance sheet for the country. We have a programme in place. We have released adequate ground through exclusive prospecting orders. So, a lot of ground is now available in the country for companies that want to investigate our mineral endowment.
We have formed the National Mining Company for prospecting our minerals. The board is in place; we are resourcing staff, we will soon acquire equipment and we will be able to carry out the work. We need to decide however, which minerals should get priority in that exercise. We also have two contracts that are operating at multinational level to carry out exercises; firstly covering investigation of our rivers and then also to do specifics using imagery systems. That is the work that is going on to make sure that we have knowledge on our mineral endowment. Thank you Mr. Speaker.
MR. HLONGWANE: Hon. Minister, what encumbrances are there in as far as accessing the results from the Canadian company is concerned? Why can we not have those results?
MR. F. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I frankly have not been able to see the contract that we signed with the Canadian company. I know that the Canadian company left the country in a bit of a huff for reasons that I am not sure about, whether they were either political or economic. We are not getting responses from them and we are simply not able to get the information sent back to us. Thank you.
MS. ZINDI: Thank you Mr. Speaker. I need to find out from the Deputy Minister whether it is not possible to engage the Canadian Embassy here in order for us to get those results because this is the wealth of the country which we cannot allow to be in the hands of foreigners? Why would he not take that step or that route to engage the Canadian Embassy in order for us to access the results of that exploration?
MR. F. MOYO: Thank you Mr. Speaker. All that effort has in fact been undertaken. We are still trying, but at the moment we have not met with success.