Small-scale gold miners demand market rates

THE Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale for Sustainable Mining Council (ZASMC) has called on gold refinery Fidelity Printers and Refiners to offer gold miners competitive rates to encourage delivery of the mineral.

Kudzai Kuwaza

In his 2014 national budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa banned the export of unrefined gold.

Fidelity Printers, which recently resumed operations after stopping its mills in 2007 due to low output from miners, will now be the sole buyer of gold.

ZASMC president Wellington Takavarasha said the rates offered to miners should be commensurate with rates at the London Bullion Market.

“We hope that Fidelity can offer market rates that are commensurate with London Bullion Market rates to encourage miners to sell their gold,” Takavarasha said.

Although miners welcomed the reduction of royalties from 7% to 3% for gold miners in the budget, Takavarasha said the royalties could have been lower given the low tonnage produced by its members. Chinamasa proposed to levy a lower royalty of 3% on artisinal miners whose output does not exceed 0,5kg per month, with effect from January 1, 2014.

In response to Chinamasa’s proposals to decriminalise artisinal mining and availing a US$100 million facility to boost production, Takavarasha said a steering committee had been set up to raise awareness among miners on Chinamasa’s pronouncements. The committee, he said, would involve the ministries of Mines, Environment and Lands as well as rural district councils.

He said there was need to organise the artisinal miners into formal groups in order to fully utilise the US$100 million facility.

The facility could be best used to create about 80 service centres countrywide offering miners machinery, consumables and milling services among other services. These centres will serve as one stop shops as well as provide a supervisory role to ensure that miners return any equipment borrowed from the centres, Takavarasha said.

“If this is properly implemented, we could increase our output from the current two to about 20 tonnes (of gold),” he said.

ZASMC estimates that artisanal and the small-scale mining sector directly employ about 500 000 people in Zimbabwe on a full time, seasonal or occasional basis.