GOVERNMENT has reviewed downwards mining fees which will see small-scale miners paying less to register their claims.According to the Government Gazette published last Friday, application fees for registration as an approved prospector have been reduced from US$5 000 to US$4 000 every five years.
An ordinary prospecting licence now costs US$750, down from US$1 000.The ministry has also reduced levies for inspections of gold claims from US$100 per every five hectares to US$100 for 10 hectares while fees for base claims are now US$100 per five hectares from US$200.
The registration fees for gold claims remain at US$200, while first and second inspections for gold claims were slashed by half from US$100 per hectare and US$200 to US$50 and US$100 respectively.
Protection fees for grounds that have not been mined have been reduced from US$1 000 to US$100 for two months.The Chamber of Mines and the Zimbabwe Miners' Federation have been negotiating with the Government since last year when authorities raised the pre-exploration fees for most minerals by as much as 8 000 percent.
Mining and Mining Development Deputy Minister Gift Chimanikire said Government had originally increased the mining fees and levies to discourage speculative holding of mineral claims which had become rampant.
"We want to encourage miners to keep claims they can manage and allow others to take the rest, while making it reasonably affordable for them to do so. We are addressing concerns of stakeholders while at the same time protecting the interests of the Government," he said.
The increases last year saw the registration fees for diamond mining licences rising from US$1 million to US$5 million, while an application for a platinum mining licence went up from US$200 000 to US$500 000.
According to the fee structure, firms are supposed to pay an annual rental of US$3 000 and US$500 per hectare for diamonds and chrome respectively. These remained unchanged in the new prices that were gazetted by the ministry.
"Fees for diamonds and platinum will not change because we have civil servants to look after. We have to improve on what we can contribute to the fiscus so the fees had to be increased," said Mr Chimanikire.
ZMF president Mr Wellington Takavarasha had said in the past that they prefer the old fee structure as it would help promote investment in the sector, particularly by small-scale miners.
But Mr Chimanikire said people were expected to have "some sort" of starting capital when they want to venture into mining. But once they were in, Government would assist those who needed help.
"The ministry has a mining loan fund for small-scale miners of up to US$35 000 per individual and we are starting a programme to hire out equipment to them," he said.
Sixty percent of the loans and equipment were being given to women so as to encourage them to participate in mining.