22 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Govt to Introduce Special Desks for Mining

Government will soon introduce mineral specific desks as well as a special desk on artisanal and small-scale mining within the ministry of Mines and Mining Development as part of efforts to re-organise the ministry and position it to realise its full potential.

This was revealed by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando while responding to queries from small-scale miners who are attending the ongoing inaugural Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners' Mining and Investment Summit in Harare yesterday.

The first day of the summit, which is running under the theme, "unlocking empowerment, finance and investment opportunities in the small scale mining sector", was punctuated by queries and complaints from miners who wanted Government to address a number of issues to allow them to boost production.

Small-scale miners' contribution to mining sector output has rapidly been on the increase over the years and in 2017 they accounted for 13,2 tonnes of the country's total gold output which stood at 24,9 tonnes and are this year targeting to surpass that figure.

Responding to miners' concerns, Minister Chitando said his ministry will soon introduce specific mineral desks and a special desk for small-scale miners which should improve efficiency as opposed to the current situation where different sector issues are centralised at general desks.

Minister Chitando said in as much as the miners were raising some pertinent issues which need re-dress from Government, most of the issues they were raising were largely a product of lack of adequate interface between the parties.

"Indeed, Government is going to establish a desk for small-scale miners in the ministry," said Minister Chitando.

"This is part of the re-organisation which will take place within the ministry. So there will be a desk for all the major (individual) minerals, a desk for gold, a desk for nickel, a desk for chrome, a desk for diamonds, but there will also be a desk for small-scale miners.

"Further to that, I am sure most of you have heard what we call the ease of doing business . . . We would want to see, effective in April, a monthly meeting between the Zimbabwe Miners' Federation, the small-scale desk in the ministry and other officials in the ministry so that there is a channel to exchange notes and see how we can improve our small-scale mining sector," he said.

With small-scale miners largely at fault when it comes to adhering to environmentally friendly mining practices, Government reiterated that there will be no compromise in adhering to environmentally friendly practices as well as condoning mining outside the confines of the laws of the land.

Buyers also expressed concern with Fidelity Printers and Refiners' (FPR) insistence on one proving a capacity to supply at least 6kg of gold per month in order to get and retain a gold buying licence.

Shangani Gold Miners' Association executive member Ms Henrietta Rushwaya said the end result of this is promoting leakages to the parallel market.

"Fidelity should really revise that aspect because what that means is that most of our honest buyers and agents who cannot afford 6kg per month will be squeezed out of the sector by barons whose commitment to selling through Fidelity is in doubt.

"Insisting on this means that most people who would have wanted to deliver to Fidelity will then be forced to look for an alternative option which in this case is the black market and that won't benefit our economy," she said.

Ms Rushwaya said at best, most buyers operating in the remote areas are managing an average of $5 000 per month and the current requirement needs somebody with a capacity to deal with at least $270 000 per month which is beyond many who are mopping up gold into the formal channel.

Also topical was the issue of paying 70 percent of deliveries in US dollars with the remainder being paid through transfer to which FPR general manager Fradreck Kunaka appealed to miners to be honest with their demands as some of their expenses are paid for using plastic money.

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