March, 30 2021
The biggest challenge in Zimbabwe concerning mines is to regulate the sector. Finding a legal framework is fundamental to prevent abuses (such as smuggling and trafficking). There is simply no traceability of goods. This lack of visibility is common in the mining sector, as sites are often located in isolated areas (white zones). Thus, some sites are not equipped with cameras, which represents a potential danger both for mining personnel, and for the resources that are extracted and targeted by illegal traders. The keys to the evolution of the mining sector in Zimbabwe are regulation and traceability. These are often time-consuming issues, but their implementation can be greatly accelerated by digitalization.
A few companies such as Zimplats, Unki and Mimosa mining sites are a bit more advanced in terms of digital transition, as they have several commitments regarding safety and sustainability through technology. But these mining sites belong to the same group (Platinium Group Metals), which shows that this is not the case for all mines. Other companies such as Caledonia Mining have their primary asset in Zimbabwe (Blanket Mine), and the company aims to « increase its annual production by 45% by 2022 ». On the other hand, Dallaglio Investments brings disused mining sites back to life, with a strong will of innovation. These companies aim to promote the productivity and economic activity of the country by focusing on the implementation of the latest technology.
At this stage, few mining sites are digitalized, so there is still much room for improvement. It is essential to supervise people, mining equipment and extracted resources at the same time. There is no monitoring solution implemented, on one hand because of white zones issues, and on the other hand because some actors or mining operators have no interest in having too much transparency on their sites. Many factors come into consideration, such as corruption, and it is essential to have traceability for a more equitable distribution of resources. We definelty need to improve in terms of surveillance.
One sector that requires particular attention is diamonds industry. The income generated by this industry does not benefit to Zimbabweans. Despite the complaints, Zimbabweans do not have the leverage to quickly influence decision makers and rebalance the situation. This is due to the fact that the land used for mining is owned solely by the government and therefore, people are dependent on policy makers. In addition, very little is done to measure and reduce the environmental impact of these mining sites. It would therefore be essential to also address the issue of land distribution.
Three main topics need to be scrupulously studied:
The government is currently studying a new draft of laws for the mining sector as policy makers are aware that the mining sector is a central part of the economy, which requires a legal, commercial and legal framework.
Formalization of processes and operations will help curb corruption and avoid abuses such as smuggling.
Finally, it is essential to reduce illegal activities, for the sake of security and the fair redistribution of resources.
More than half of the foreign investment in Zimbabwe is from China. The United States also plays an important role in the mining industry. However, policymakers would like to open up to other potential markets and international opportunities. This is also something that will surely be developed in the years to come, as diversification of the client base is likely to lead to a more equitable sharing of resources.