Lack of funds cripples artisanal mining growth

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Lack of funding has crippled the operationalisation of artisanal mining permits, gold buying units and gold service centres aimed at capacitating small scale gold mining as announced last year by the Ministry of Mines, businessdigest can reveal.

Fidelity Mhlanga

In November last year the ministry said it would establish Gold Service Centres (GSC), issue Artisanal Mining Permits (AMP) in the identified catchment areas, and set up mobile buying units to plug off endemic gold smuggling and re-accelerate gold production.

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The first Gold Service Centre was aimed at St Georges, Zhombe in the Midlands serving as a pilot project funded by the Minerals Marketing Company of Zimbabwe and Fidelity Printers and Refinery (FPR).

The mines ministry has also failed to issue free AMPs aimed at curbing incidences of side marketing of gold.

These permits, according to the mines ministry, were supposed to be rolled out through the GSC, FPR and licensed millers offices and logged into a register for monitoring purposes.

According to the ministry, all gold producers were expected to have registered and issued with AMPs by November 30 2014, failure to which unregistered producers would have their operations suspended until they attain the requisite registration.

Zimbabwe Mining Federation CEO Wellington Takavarasha confirmed this week all has hit a snag predominantly due to lack of funding.

“Some of the issues which arose last year in the Minister’s press statement were never implemented like the artisanal mining permits and gold buying units,” said Takavarasha.

No service centre has been erected and commissioned. Funding is still being looked at in conjunction with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development. The only operational one is the Gold Coordination Unit.”

The Gold Compliance and Enforcement Co-ordination Unit, whose aim is to co-ordinate all the gold compliance and enforcement operations across all gold producing areas in the country, in order to arrest gold leakages and ensure increased gold sales or deliveries to FPR.

The unit comprised of the Ministry of Mines, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Office of the President and Cabinet, ZRP Minerals Unit, Ministry of Local Government, the Environmental Management Agency and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

According to the Mines ministry, the licensing of artisanal miners through AMPs was expected to bring sanity in the small-scale gold sector and enable FPR to mop all the gold currently in the hands of informal and unregistered miners.
Small scale miners across all sectors are reeling from lack of basic infrastructure, high utilisation of rudimentary mining equipment, lack of geological information of the ore bodies, unskilled labour force, scarce financial support, lack of collateral, engagement of child labour and compliance to legislative issues.

“Small scale miners are not aware or rather ignorant of proposed annual Rural District Councils.

The small scale miners can object or agree with proposed fees,rates, levies and charges in writing within 30 days from date of publication of notice,” said Takavarasha.

He said charges and levies by rural district councils are indiscriminate and range from US$200-US$10 000 per annum.

According to Takavarasha who is also president of the Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale for Sustainable Mining Council, 70-85% of the rural population is into mining with 70% involved in gold mining while 30% is into chromite, tantalite and other semi-precious and precious minerals

1n 2005, artisanal and small-scale mining produced half of the 21 tonnes produced; this year two tonnes has been produced so far.

Informal and unlicenced mining provide a livelihood for about 500 000 and about two million depend on its existence.

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