A committee of Parliament is calling on Government to reconsider its intention to transform the Minerals and Marketing Authority of Zimbabwe into an exploration company, arguing there is no co-relation between the functions the new institution would be charged with.
The transformed institution would retain its traditional mandate of marketing all the country's mineral resources except for gold and silver while shepherding beneficiation.
Last year, Mines and Mining Development Minister Mr Walter Chidhakwa said it had become vital to broaden the functions of the MMCZ to include exploration as a key function of the new institution to determine the exact quantities of unproven commodities.
He noted the role of the MMCZ was becoming less important given that there had been a shift in the marketing of minerals globally, with resources being sold directly to customers.
The chairman of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Energy and Mines Daniel Shumba told The Herald Business his committee had recommended that Government reconsider the proposal.
"As legislators, we do not see the co-relation between exploration, beneficiation and marketing," said Dr Shumba.
"So we simply asked for justification and consideration.
"It is our view that authorities should find a new home for exploration in the broader mining legislation, but we will eventually find each other. While beneficiation and marketing are related, exploration is a separate mining issue."
Zimbabwe has a huge and highly diversified mineral resource base dominated by two prominent geological features namely the famous Great Dyke and the ancient Greenstone Belts, also known as Gold Belts.
The Great Dyke is a layered igneous complex extending north-south for about 550 km. It plays host to the world's largest high grade chromite resource base.
Zimbabwe also holds the world's second largest platinum resources after South Africa and significant reserves of coal, copper and nickel.
Setting the exploration company would be very expensive, according to the Chamber of Mines, and at least $7 billion would be needed to explore 40 percent of the resources.
Analysts said transforming the MMCZ would be more of duplicating the roles of existing entities such and Minerals Promotion Council, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, Geological Survey and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
Chairman of UZ Geology Department Dr Tendai Njila told The Herald Business that merging these departments would help in creating an entity that would oversee the exploration business.
"They should take into consideration research and development institutions like the University of Zimbabwe Geology Department, Mining and Metallurgy Departments including the IMR and Zimbabwe School of Mines because they can be no viable mining without research focused towards the most effective methods of mineral exploration, extraction, beneficiation, marketing and diversification," said Dr Njila.
"The MMCZ would then focus more on their existing mandate of marketing these minerals so that the mining value chain is complete and in this way we have a profitable mining industry."