THE Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale for Sustainable Mining Council (ZASMC) has bemoaned what they described as punitive levies that have drastically lowered production.
ZASMC president Wellington Takavarasha said gold deposited at Fidelity Printers and Refineries by small scale miners has dropped from 17 tonnes in 2004 to just more than two tones in 2012. Last year, the amount of gold deposited at the central bank subsidiary dropped to a paltry 959 kilogrammes.
Presenting the national budget last year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa banned export of unrefined gold and made Fidelity the sole buyer and exporter of the precious mineral.
Presenting the Monetary Policy last month, Acting Reserve Bank governor Charity Dhliwayo said Fidelity would increase gold buying centers.
Takavarasha said the drop in production was due to the levies being charged by various government arms, saying some rural district councils were charging his members as much as US$10 000 added to charges of US$4000 per claim by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife and the Environmental Management Agency charges.
“We need collaborative efforts across all the sectors,” Takavarasha said. “So many of our members have been taken to court by rural district councils over these levies particularly in Mutawatawa.”
He said plans by government to set up a US$100 million facility for small scale miners was a clear indication that they recognised the role small scale gold miners could play towards boosting both the mining sector and the fragile economy.
Takavarasha said there was need for government to put in place flexible policies as well as more incentives including a favourable gold price commensurate to the rates of the London Bullion Market.
ZASMC estimates that artisanal and small-scale mining sector directly employs about 500 000 people in Zimbabwe on a full time, seasonal or occasional basis.