THE recent announcement by the Mines Minister, Richard Musukwa, that his ministry had commenced the process of tracking all idle mining licences to be revoked, following President Edgar Lungu’s directive, is a welcome move, and one that is long overdue.
Mr. Musukwa said this week that those that had failed to operationalize their mining licences were in breach of the Mining Act which required them to begin making use of the licences within 90 days.
The question one may wish to ask is why someone should acquire a mining licence or just any licence for an economic venture just to sit on it or is it just to show off to people they own such a venture. It is retrogressive and a drawback for both personal and national development.
The reason people pay money, sometimes even huge amounts, to obtain mining licences, just like other for other businesses, is because they would like to operationalize and actively operate the business ventures for the purpose of earning more money from them.
Let’s face it, it’s not only the business owners who stand to benefit from the operationalized business ventures but a lot of other people and institutions too, including the state.
Other than the profits accrued to the promoters, the business ventures empower other people through providing jobs to them, and paying tax to the state and which revenue is used to develop the general welfare of the nation. A better and developed nation simply means good living standards for the citizens.
Holding on to business licences, such as mine permits, is not only grossly unfair but also a disservice to the nation because it is as good as denying the people the economic benefits of such a business venture by sitting on it.
Just why a person would want to obtain a mining permit, or indeed any other licence for any business venture, when they are not in fact serious about operationalizing such a venture is mind-boggling.
Why some of our people only wish to derive personal glorification and prestige by exhibiting mining licences or tracks of land they cannot develop is another big question. Why not hand the pieces of land to people who have the means to operationalize them, or better still go into a joint venture with other people or institutions rather than simply holding on to them, and illegally so.
The Mines and Minerals Act (11 of 2015), in articles 34 and 35 clearly states the following:
34. A mining licence shall be granted for a period not exceeding
(a) two years, for artisanal mining;
(b) ten years, for small-scale mining; and
(c) twenty-five years, for large-scale mining.
35.(1) A holder of a mining licence shall
(a) within one hundred and eighty days of the grant of the mining licence, register a pegging certificate at the mining cadastre office;
(b) develop the mining area, and carry on mining operations, with due diligence and in compliance with the programme of mining operations and the environmental impact assessment;
(c) take all measures on or under the surface to mine the mineral to which the mining licence relates;(d) for large-scale mining—Duration of mining licence Obligations of holder of mining licence192 No. 11 of 2015]Mines and Minerals Development
(i) implement the local business development undertaking attached to the mining licence; and
(ii) employ and train citizens of Zambia in accordance with the proposal for employment and training attached to the licence.
It’s therefore clear that those sitting on mining licences have in fact abrogated the Mines and Minerals Act. As potential mine owners and operators, you bear a huge responsibility to help deliver other Zambians out of poverty through employment creation and contribution of taxes from your business ventures.
Sitting on mining licences or failing to operationalize your mining ventures actually abrogating the trust and responsibility that society places on you.