Source: The Southern Times
Zimbabwe has joined 12 other Southern African countries that are benefitting from the transfer of new technologies and skills from the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec), a move that is expected to attract investments into the country’s mining sector from Japanese mining companies.
Jogmec works as an advisor for Japanese mining companies, with a view to secure their safe and stable activities in mining sectors outside Japan. Among other key roles, JOGMEC provides financial and technical support to exploration and development projects carried out by the Japanese companies.
In 2008, Jogmec set up the Geological Remote Sensing Centre (GRSC) in Botswana to facilitate the transfer of geological remote sensing technique to SADC countries and scouting project seeds for future Jogmec mineral exploration. This has helped in strengthening relationships between southern African countries and japan.
Speaking at meeting on sustainable development of mineral resources for the mining sector in Zimbabwe last week, Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Yoshi Tendai Hiraishi said the GRSC can now transfer state of the art GIS techniques and remote sensing know-how to Zimbabwean geologists working for the Geological Survey Department.
“Almost all countries in the entire SADC region are benefiting from the activities of this centre.
As we all know, southern Africa is abundantly endowed with mineral resources, but in view of their finite nature, the need to exploit them in a sustainable manner is crucial. Japan of today is largely dependent on importation of mineral resources from abroad but it used to be a leading mining country and has been developing advanced mining technologies since the 1970s,” he said. “The active involvement of Jogmec in the mining sector of Zimbabwe will hopefully, attract Japanese companies’ attention which may lead to investment in Zimbabwe’s mining sector by Japanese companies in the future.”
To date, Jogmec has signed MOUs with 13 Sadc member states, including Zimbabwe, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allowed for the transfer of knowledge and skills last year. With the signing of the MoU in Zimbabwe, Jogmec has five projects running under its technical corporation programme that involves a transfer of researching technologies to government on sustainable exploitation of minerals.
Zimbabwean geologists from the Geological Survey Department are currently receiving training at the GRSC in Botswana.
Since the setting up of the GRSC, Jogmec has conducted JV exploration in politically stable SADC countries and currently has 9 ongoing projects in 6 African countries. There are two projects in Tanzania, two each in Namibia and South Africa, and one each in Malawi, Botswana and Ethiopia.
Speaking at the same event, John Makandwa, director in the department of Mining Promotion and Development in the ministry of Mines and Mining Development said Zimbabwe’s mining sector has plenty of room for investment in exploration activities using modern technology.
“Zimbabwe is under explored and yet to experience application of modern exploration technologies. Also, considering its highly prospective geology, the country has huge investment opportunities in the exploration and mine development,” he said.
The country’s low exploration has been largely due to the negative perception of investors due to government policies, which scare investors.
The mining sector is capital intensive and local banks are not offering long term capital, leaving offshore funding as the only available option. The situation has been exacerbated by the low commodity prices on the world market threatening the viability of resources-driven economies.
Zimbabwe is currently finalizing the transformation of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) into an exploration company – the Mineral Exploration and Promotion Corporation (MEPC).
The MEPC will have the important mandate of ascertaining the value of the country’s unproven mineral deposits that have remained unknown for decades due to fragmented exploration by the private sector.
Although Zimbabwe is a mineral-rich country, believed to be endowed with more than 60 different types of minerals, the country’s resources are largely under-explored.
Japanese companies have been steadily increasing their presence in different sectors of the economy in the region.
Last month, a delegation from the Japanese Business Federation (KEIDANREN) paid a courtesy call on the SADC Secretariat and expressed its keenness to seize more investment opportunities in the SADC region.
Sadc currently accounts to over 50 percent shares of trade between Japan and the African continent and is home to over 100 Japanese companies.
SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax told the delegation that under the SADC Free Trade Area configuration, investors enjoy free tariff and an integrated market of 15 SADC Member States, with a combined GDP of USD $686 billion (as of 2014), a combined population of 294 million and investment opportunities across sectors.