THE Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale for Sustainable Mining Council (ZASMC) are involved in talks with various donors including those from Australia and Denmark bid to formalise operations of more than 1,5 million small- scale miners.
ZASMC president Wellington Takavarasha said sponsorship of operations of small scale miners would significantly boost their livelihood and at the same time make a significant contribution to the fiscus.
“The sponsorship is going to be a major boost for the 1,5 million plus small scale miners,” Takavarasha said. “The funding will help our members become part of the mainstream economy as well as aid the development, growth and empowerment of the sector.”
He said the funding would compliment government’s efforts to formalise the sector and boost production.
Gold deposited at Fidelity Printers and Refineries by small scale miners has dropped from 17 tonnes in 2004 to just more than two tonnes in 2012.
Last year the amount of gold deposited at the central bank subsidiary by small-scale miners dropped to a paltry 959 kilogrammes.
He said government could work with the donors as they need partners to regularise levels of gold panning and end illegal trading of the mineral.
Takavarasha called for the government to introduce flexible policies that will incentivise the sector as well as boost its operations as encapsulated in the the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa — in his 2014 national budget presentation in December last year —, set up a US$100 million facility for small scale miners in apparent recognition of the vital role they could play towards boosting both the mining sector and the fragile economy.
Chinamasa also barred export of unrefined gold which is now sold to Fidelity, the sole buyer and exporter of the mineral.
In her monetary policy presentation earlier this year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe acting governor Charity Dhliwayo said the central bank will open new buying centres to ensure access by the small scale miners to the market as well as reducing vulnerability of miners.
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.