HomeBusiness DigestRBZ in breach of mining legislation

RBZ in breach of mining legislation

Eric Chiriga

THE decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to allow unregistered panners to sell their gold to Fidelity Printers and Refineries contradicts mining legislation and is likely to fuel illicit gol

d mining.

The central bank last week allowed gold panners to sell the yellow metal to Fidelity even if they do not have licences and are not registered.

Fidelity is a unit of the RBZ.

Analysts said this was a desperate move to mobilise gold for export to earn foreign currency.

Economic analyst John Robertson said government was displaying desperation for foreign currency by allowing unregistered panners to sell their gold through the formal system.

“The Reserve Bank is recognising an informal source of revenue that has already been there. Due to the difficulties in sourcing foreign currency they now want to get gold from illegal panners,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the panners might register in the short-term.

Although it will bring in more foreign currency, the move is in violation of the Mines and Minerals Act which states that panners are supposed to register and be licensed.

“No person shall work any alluvial or eluvial deposit of a designated mineral except under an order,” reads Section 222, subsection (3) of the Mines and Minerals Act.

Section 225, subsection 2 (b) says the order shall contain provisions requiring the miner to give notice of every period during which he proposes to conduct operations and the particular land within the area covered by the order on which such operations are proposed to be conducted.

The gold panners were assured by the central bank that they would not be required to produce mining licences or say where they got the gold.

Small-scale gold miners and unregistered panners are now selling their gold to Fidelity without producing mining licences.

The government has in the past complained about illicit gold dealers who buy gold from panners and illegally export it. In 2003, government cancelled gold buying concession licences and directed Fidelity to be the sole buyer of gold in Zimbabwe.

In a bid to boost the delivery of gold, the RBZ recently increased the gold support price to $175 000 per gramme from $130 000 per gramme.

Gold exports declined during the first quarter of this year, realising a total of US$80,4 million compared to US$90,7 million during the same period last year.

In 2003, the precious metal fetched US$43,9 million during the first three months of the year.

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