10 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Small-Scale Miners Cry Foul Over Fuel Shortages

Fuel shortages that have dogged the economy since last year, are now posing a threat to the mining sector and small-scale miners have called on the Government to act decisively to avert the negative effects. The mining sector is Zimbabwe's largest foreign currency earner led by gold exports.

Deliveries to Government's single buying arm, Fidelity Printers and Refinery (FPR), jumped to 33,2 tonnes in 2018 from 24,8t in 2017. Small-scale miners accounted for the largest chunk of the haul after delivering 21,7 tonnes to Fidelity. Most of the small-scale mining activities are powered with energy from off the grid source with the miners relying heavily on alternative sources of energy, chief among them diesel and petrol. However, the country is currently experiencing acute fuel shortages due to increased consumption by industry and motorists among other uses against insufficient foreign currency to stock up adequately.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Miners' Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya, said there was a need for policy makers to cushion the small-scale mining sector so as to guarantee foreign currency earnings.

"In a situation like the one we are in, where the biggest challenge facing the economy is foreign currency, the last thing that anyone would want is any threat to the streams that are bringing the little that we have," said Ms Rushwaya.

"There is no doubt that the availability of fuel is one such threat to the mining sector, particularly the small-scale mining sector and our appeal to Government is that please let's find a solution that guarantees fuel to this productive sector. Our sector (in 2018) accounted for almost 22 tonnes of gold deliveries to Fidelity, which totalled 33,2 tonnes and this is really a sign that as a sector we are playing ball towards the attainment of 100 tonnes per year as set out by Government.

"So our appeal is that let's not have a situation where productive time and opportunity is lost in fuel queues," she said.

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