ABOUT 176 emerald mining licenses in Lufwanyama district that have no record of having produced a single gramme of emerald stones should be turned into an agricultural areas, Emerald Production Watch of Zambia (EPWZ) President Musa Kafimbwa has suggested.
Mr Kafimbwa said out of the 500 licenced emerald mining companies, 176 have no history of having produced any emerald and so they should be turned into agricultural land.
He said the emerald mines located beyond Mitondo stream have no record of producing emerald and some businessmen who invested in them ended up losing out.
Mr Kafimbwa cited some businessmen who invested in the emerald mines and lost out as George Foster Singanya from Tanzania and former Bank of Zambia (BoZ) Governor Francis Nkhoma.
“Yes, there are about 500 emerald mining licences in Lufwanyama which are dormant but you cannot turn these mines into agricultural land because they have emerald and only need investment. They have a record of having produced emeralds before.
“The only area I know which has emerald mines, but have no record of having produced a single gramme is the area after Mitondo stream where some people invested and ended up losing out. This area has about 176 dormant licences and I think this is a place which can be turned into agricultural area,” Mr Kafimbwa said.
He said the mining licences were those in areas like Kafubu where Kagem and Grizzly Mining Limited are operating from and Miku West, Kalobwe, Kangalati and Kamakanga areas.
In separate interviews, senior officers from the Ministry of Mines said some of the mines were dormant and occupying very fertile soils for agricultural, hence the need to turn them into agricultural scheme.
The senior officers who refused to be quoted, stressed that some mines were just a bush and there was no need to even regard them as emerald mines when they were not contributing anything to the country’s economy
“It’s not an issue of saying it is an emerald mine, it is an issue of an emerald mine contributing to the country’s economy through revenue and other areas. It is sad that for a long time some areas are called emerald mining companies, but they produce nothing.
“You are better off turning them into an agricultural area to produce maize and other crops to alleviate poverty and promote food security in the area,” a senior official said.