The Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development has announced an increased focus on monitoring and inspection of mineral exploration licenses to curb illegal mining activities in the country. Acting Mines Minister Elvis Nkandu delivered this message during a question-and-answer session in Parliament.
Minister Nkandu addressed the misconception that illegal mining activities are solely conducted by foreign nationals, emphasizing that both Zambians and foreigners are involved. He warned that anyone found engaged in illegal mining will face legal consequences, as the government aims to ensure that all Zambians benefit from the country’s mineral wealth.
Providing statistics, Minister Nkandu revealed that as of August 2022, a total of 6,953 mineral exploration licenses were issued nationwide. Out of these licenses, 2,900 are currently active, with exploration taking place in 23,135 areas. Specifically, Mufumbwe district in North-western province has 95 active licenses, and ongoing exploration work is underway. Kasempa district, on the other hand, has 120 active licenses.
Additionally, Minister Nkandu highlighted that several areas have completed geochemical surveys, revealing an average copper mineralization grade of 1 percent. The issuance of mining licenses resulting from mineral exploration licenses stands at 2,527, of which 1,439 licenses are currently active. Between 1968 and 2021, a total of 2,492 mining licenses were issued, with 1,404 currently active.
Addressing artisanal mining, Minister Nkandu explained that exploration permits are exclusively applicable to Zambians and are valid for two years, subject to renewal. The minimum hectarage granted for artisanal mining is 2.6 hectares. Small-scale mining permits, on the other hand, have a validity period of four years and are not renewable. These permits are applicable to companies with a minimum of 5 percent ownership by Zambians.
Minister Nkandu’s remarks were in response to a question posed by Mufumbwe Member of Parliament, Elliot Kamondo. The parliamentarian sought information on the number of mineral exploration licenses issued nationwide as of August 2022, the areas under exploration, and the dates of the last mineral explorations conducted in Mufumbwe and Kasempa districts.