Member of Parliament for Nkayi South, Stars Mathe, has urged the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to expedite the issuance of Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs) in the mining sector, citing the delay chases investors away.
Mathe, during the Question and Answer session in Parliament, Thursday, noted that the process of obtaining EPOs takes too much time which in turn makes room for the rise of illegal miners.
“Some investors lose patience and head back to their countries leaving room for Amakorokoza to do as they please. A lot of people apply but they end up leaving because of lack of investors. Some end up engaging in illegal gold mining because the documentation will not have been presented to them in time.”
Nketa MP Phelela Masuku also inquired on what the government is doing to ensure that EPOs are processed timeously.
Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Winston Chitando acknowledged that there had been a huge backlog of EPO applications, but he said the government was now almost up to date with the processing.
“The issue on the EPOs which has prevailed has largely been due to the fact that there has been a huge backlog of EPO applications. Now that we are up to date, all EPOs which come in will be processed timeously. The concern of Amakorokoza raised is also valid in the sense that once an EPO application is logged, it prohibits the Ministry entertaining applications for mining title in the EPO.”
Minister Chitando explained that for applications from small scale mines, the permission to mine in an area can be solely granted from the EPO holder.
“In terms of the provisions of the law, if the EPO is granted and if anyone wants to undertake mining title in that particular EPO which has been granted, that can be done with explicit consent of the EPO holder,” he said.
“The fact that we have some EPOs which had taken a number of years to process meant that other investors who would have wanted to participate to acquire respective mining title in that particular EPO application were prohibited. So they would not be able to make an application.”