THE Department of Geological Surveys says mineral samples that are usually taken by exploring companies for testing abroad are closely monitored by the department and can never be sold.
Commenting on continued assertions by some civil society groups that some mining companies are exporting minerals in the name of samples, director of geological surveys, Jalf Salima, said the samples are strictly for laboratory analysis and do not carry any economic value.
He said each export requires a licence from the department before being undertaken.
“The claim that mineral samples taken out of the country are sold is just speculation,” said Salima.
He said before any sample is exported, there are several institutions that are involved and that the sampling process is monitored to ensure that only quantities required are taken at every phase.
“When one is doing mapping, samples required are very low. However, we cannot say samples should be one or two kilogrammes because the licences and purpose of the samples differ,” said Salima.
He said the department also looks at all the analysis reports taken place with the minerals. Commenting on the 40 tonne of niobium samples from Kanyika which were sent to China, Salima said samples were fed into an existing plant and processed after being analysed.
He said the analysis needed a large consignment for testing because of the nature of the mineral but said the samples cannot be returned to the country for reasons he could not explain properly.