Local startup proposes (again) to build a mining claims database, will the govt heed the call

Leonard Sengere Avatar

Here is what we all know – Zimbabwe is ridiculously loaded when it comes to natural resources. Yes, I know there were some exaggerations about our share of the world’s lithium reserves, but it remains that we are rich.

We are all also vaguely aware that the mining sector is a bit of a mess. That whole machete-gangs-fighting-to-the-death over mines episode is hard to forget.

Then, in my opinion, the government has blood on its hands in encouraging unsafe mining practices as long as it leads to headlines like “Zim lithium exports jump 5000pc in 5 years.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, there is a lot that needs fixing. However, the major problems can be boiled down to two words – transparency and accountability.

Mining industry

Here is an overview of the situation on the ground:

  • Zimbabwe boasts a diverse mining sector with over 40 minerals, including major deposits of platinum, chrome, gold, coal, diamonds and a new kid on the block – lithium.
  • The sector contributes 12% to the country’s GDP and has the potential for further growth. Back in 2019, the govt set a US$12 billion annual output target by 2023. Considering we were producing $4bn at the time it was crazy ambitious. However, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development says we are on track to meet that target this year, impressive stuff.
  • However, challenges like power shortages, foreign currency limitations, and policy uncertainties hinder this potential.
  • Additionally, a scramble for resources by both locals and foreign companies raises questions about ownership and claim rights. Some of the bloody fights we witnessed were because of a lack of transparency on these rights.

Challenges:

  • Lack of Transparency: The current system for registering and managing mining claims is opaque and prone to disputes, with fisticuffs and legal battles over ownership occurring frequently.
  • Inefficient Processes: The manual process of managing claims is slow, costly, and lacks proper record-keeping, creating opportunities for corruption and mismanagement.
  • Limited Data Accessibility: Essential information about mining claims and activities is not easily accessible to the public or relevant authorities, hindering effective monitoring and regulation.

I believe it is by design. There are individuals making millions from corruption and would have it remain this way. They thrive when they control information to ensure their services are needed.

One startup thought one way to deal with these problems would be to develop a national Mines and Geosciences Central Database System (CDS) in Zimbabwe.

National Central Database System

Hansole Investments is proposing to build the Mines and Geosciences Central Database System (CDS). Here is what they would want to achieve with it:

The CDS would provide transparency and accountability by:

  • Centralizing all mining-related data: This includes applications, exploration information, claim status, permits, mineral resources data, safety records, and more.
  • Offering search and filtering functionalities: Users can easily find specific information about claims, activities, and resources.
  • Providing public access: Transparency fosters trust and accountability in the sector.

They say the website (database portal) would have a simple online system where you can easily see and find information about mining. You could search and filter the data, and everything would be on one page.

The site would provide details on mining applications, requests for mineral testing, permits given for mining, data about minerals, information on mining technology, reports about the mining industry, updates on mining-related issues, research and technology details, data about mine safety and the environment, and other mining-related information.

Hansole believes this would lead to:

  • Reduced costs and processing times: Electronic record-keeping streamlines processes and saves money.
  • Enhanced monitoring and regulation: Authorities can better track and manage mining activities to combat illegality.
  • Improved investor confidence: Transparency and accountability attract more responsible investors.
  • Citizen empowerment: Access to information empowers communities to hold the sector accountable.

Hansole

They say they submitted this proposal way back in 2019 and they did not get a response. I am not surprised in the least bit, had the Zim govt responded promptly, that’s what would have shocked me.

So, Hansole says they are re-submitting the proposal and let’s hope it works out.

If I’m being honest, even if the govt chooses to ignore Hansole again, I just hope they build such a CDS. It is sorely needed.

I did check Hansole’s own website to see what kind of stuff they put out. You know, to gauge if they would be up for the CDS task.

The website feels snappy and responsive although there are some interface design choices I didn’t care for. Some colour combinations they chose make it impossible to read the text, for example. But that’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. They would have to be evaluated on their database building skills.

Again, whether by Hansole or the Minister of Mines’ nephew, let’s hope the CDS is built pronto.

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11 comments

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  1. 3man

    a certain year i ventured into chrome prospecting upon a request by my uncle to join hands into the venture. we did all the paperwork that was required and paid all the fees which were required of us to pay. we reached the final stage where we were blown off our feet by the processing officer who told us square in the face that he wanted a facilitation fee before he could hand us the license. such is zimbabwe and we decided to forego the whole thing.

  2. Always Off Topic

    It’s shocking that a database does not already exist. Especially when you consider how the mining sector is structured. For years or should I say decades we had the likes of Mines and Minerals Corporation of Zimbabwe. By law no one can export most minerals on their own , it has to be done via MMCZ. If there is any one who should have some sense of all current and potential mining activities , it’s them. But this company is a black box. Zero accountability. I doubt there is any publicly accessible paper trail of this company’s activities. It’s a parastatal after all.

    Things are the way they are to facilitate corruption.

    1. Doomed

      That’s the thing that’s blowing my mind right now! No industry database? In this day and age? It’s been a while since I last heard of the ‘ease of doing business’ index, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if we are still ranked closer to the bottom than to the middle

  3. Anonymous

    Do you have to go that far as minerals, you never have gone to Century House Offices of Deeds and company registry and see how title deeds and company registry documents are stored and accessed by citizens and law firms. You have companies with disputed ownership having files missing in Harare and Byo. Imagine all the title deeds in Zimbabwe are still stored as paper file with a database for storing location of each paper files! A person can request a file to examine and clandestinely important sections oe the whole file with no accoountability

    Wake up and smell the coffee of digital government in Zimbabwe.

  4. T

    Do you have to go that far as minerals, you never have gone to Century House Offices of Deeds and company registry and see how title deeds and company registry documents are stored and accessed by citizens and law firms. You have companies with disputed ownership having files missing in Harare and Byo. Imagine all the title deeds in Zimbabwe are still stored as paper file with a database for storing location of each paper files! A person can request a file to examine and clandestinely important sections oe the whole file with no accoountability

    Wake up and smell the coffee of digital government in Zimbabwe.

  5. Ad infinitum

    Off topic, but amana, is anyone else getting hit with back to back autoplay video ads when they scroll too far? I can physically feel my mb’s being pulled from my grip😂

  6. Anonymous

    Some 20 years ago UZ Mining Eng dept had a project on this. Oracle licences fees might have been one headache. Now there a a bunch of Open source and free database suites that easily compete with Oracle. Its more a lack of will and lack of strategic plan for digitization

  7. Tmedia

    Learn How to create a website and monetize it visit https://tmediaonline.com

  8. /////

    Trust me such things make corruption more difficult.We don’t need such things.

  9. tj

    Hansole cant even pay their hosting, shame

  10. 007

    HanSole has to research more about the mining industry and the writer as well. What the proposed database is suppose to do, cannot be done online. It’s something that can only be done physically available on the ground . Most miners keep their activities a secret , e.g they lie about their mineral concentration samples etc and the government cannot stop that from happening .

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