Government has disclosed that it is making final consultations with key stakeholders on the amendment of the petroleum act.
Mines Deputy Minister, Maxwell Mwale, under whose ministry explorations are conducted, disclosed to ZANIS in an interview that the ministry was on course and had progressed towards the amendment of the Petroleum exploration and production act of 1985.
He said the ministry was hopeful of coming up with the draft bill which is to be presented to parliament when the house resumes sitting.
Mr. Mwale said the ministry had last year convened a consultative meeting which was attended by various stakeholders that included chiefs and Members of Parliament during which it received some submissions.
Government last year announced that it will ammend the act so that it matches with the current reality that will also have a strong provision on environmental protection.
Government has since suspended the issuance of licences for oil and gas exploration until a new law has been put in place .
Meanwhile Mr. Mwale has observed that increased funding to the department of mines safety would enhance the departments inspectorate role on the mines.
Mr. Mwale stated that inadequate funding, coupled with shortage of manpower, has been a major hindrance to the effective operations of the department.
He stated that government, in bid to reinforce the operations of the department, last year procured vehicles that would ease the movement of the officers.
The Deputy Minister however pointed out that it was difficult for the ministry to retain staff that are leaving the civil service due to attractive packages being offered in the private sector.
He said the department, due to the nature of its work, needs qualified person to handle the work.
Meanwhile Mr. Mwale has disclosed that the mines ministry has sent its staff to column mine in Sinazongwe to check on the mine safety measures at the mine.
He said the mine was told to reinforce its safety measures which it has put in place so as to avoid accidents.
Residents in the area were up arms with the mine management following accidents that had rocked the mine in the recent past.
The resident had since implored government to institute investigations at the mine.