NOT much is known among members of the public about mineral exploration in Zambia, especially the extent to which new mineral deposits continue to be discovered.
By definition, mineral exploration is a process of finding ores (commercially viable concentrations of minerals) to mine.
Mineral exploration is a much more intensive, organised and professional form of mineral prospecting and, although it frequently uses the services of prospecting, the process is quite involving.
It is an undisputed fact that Zambia has a wealth of mineral potential, and a prosperous mining industry is a key element in
achieving the goal of a healthy economy that provides all regions and communities with opportunities and choices, through wealth creation.
The complex geological evolution of Zambia, together with its abundant and diverse mineral deposits and other natural resources, are pointers towards a potentially booming economy.
The Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines-Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) still has a significant role to play in exploring for mineral deposits around the country.
In this regard, ZCCM-IH has announced the establishment of a mineral exploration company in Kalulushi on the Copperbelt to steer the exploration of base metals and other minerals, among them oil and gas.
This task is largely being undertaken by Mawe Exploration and Technical Services Limited is a subsidiary of ZCCM-IH which was incorporated on April 12 last year.
It will also look into the development of local content and beneficiation capabilities, small-scale mining development, as well as the provision of attendant quality mining services.
Mineral exploration will be done in partnership with foreign companies to help unlock value in this vital sector.
As ZCCM-IH investor relations officer Joseph Lungu says, there is untapped potential of the country’s mineral base, which once unlocked will add more value to the country’s economic growth.
Mineral resource exploration is a renowned venture worldwide as industrialists continue with the search for fresh deposits and, as a country with vast potential, Zambia should not lag behind in such efforts.
Time and again, it has been heard that various deposits have been discovered, ranging from oil in the north-western region, diamonds in the west and rich deposits of uranium in the southern part of the country.
Such ‘revelations’ have caused anxiety among members of the public as to what is happening in the area of mineral exploration, hence it is important that such data is confirmed by recognised bodies, both local and international, eager to explore for minerals on Zambian soil.
Traditional mining involving the mainstream copper has a lifespan and, so it is vital that exploration of minerals is intensified in search of other base metals.
Not long ago, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister, Christopher Yaluma said that 40 per cent of the country was not mapped. This implies that there are areas with vast potential to contribute to mining activities, including gas and oil.
The Government is encouraging explorations to discover a new lifeline in mining and is doing this amidst the revision of the Mines and
Minerals Act of 2008, to help promote value-addition and thus enhance benefits from copper and other minerals.
It can only be envisaged that the newly-established company in Kalulushi will diligently carry out its duties of exploring for minerals for the benefit of the nation. This task needs support from various players in the mining sector.
Mining has been the country’s economic life-line, since the 1930s.
After so many years, Zambia surely deserves to go a step further, hence a proactive approach to issues of exploration is welcome and timely.