The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will this week sign off at least 40 gold claims across the country as Government steps up efforts to boost gold production in the country. The claims will be bequeathed to small scale miners and are drawn from the 1 million hectares of mineral rich deposits, which Government said it will remove from the state protected areas for exploitation by miners.
The release is part of efforts by Government to boost export earnings to the $3 billion target set for 2017 from the $2 billion achieved in 2016. Some of these areas, industry sources say, were already being exploited anyway but produce was being smuggled out of the country as their exploitation was illegal.
Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development Fred Moyo, confirmed the signing off of the claims but said he would not know the exact number as these are handled at provincial level.
"We are progressively releasing gold deposits and mining land with other minerals as part of the one million hectares which we said we will release from state protected areas," said Deputy Minister Moyo.
"But for me to then quantify the number of claims off hand is a bit difficult because these are handled by the provinces.
"What we are doing at our level is to sign off say a particular piece of land but then it becomes the business of the provinces and the miners how they go on to peg the land and the number of claims that will be pegged from a given piece of land," he said.
But a senior official at the ministry confirmed this week will see at least 40 claims being released to miners. "At least 40 have been signed off and the beneficiaries will be given title and the green light to commence operations," he said.
"Government has in the past been seized with happenings in the Chrome sector but for now the new frontier is gold where we believe we can boost production and accrue larger economic benefits.
"Going forward we will witness the freeing up of more of these claims to small scale miners who have applied for concessions," he said.
The move is set to boost gold exports which last year totalled $914 million up from $737 million in 2015.
Signs of growth from last year's figures have been telling and as at 12 May gold alone had risen by 3, 2 percent compared to the same period in 2016, with earnings totalling $275, 2 million due to firming commodity prices on the international market.
Total mineral exports, from the entire mining basket, for the same period also firmed by 27 percent this year compared to the preceding year.