The Zimbabwe Mining Federation yesterday pleaded with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy to have the window period for the ban on exports of raw chrome extended to at least 36 months, to allow small-scale miners to purchase the requisite smelting equipment.
The federation team, led by Wellington Takavarasha, told the committee the ban had adversely affected small-scale miners as they were now failing to pay their employees and had incurred heavy debts as they had invested on equipment to help them in the extraction of the mineral.
Macdonald Chapfika, a miner, told the committee by banning the export of chrome, government was creating a monopoly for big companies like Zimasco and ZimAlloys.
“Indigenous people have no capacity to smelt and we expect you to help the situation by allowing the exports to continue while the research on the ban is being done,” said Chapfika.
“If government plans along Zimasco and ZimAlloys, that is planning for suicide because they are private limited companies and they smelt whatever they want and hold the stock if they want to and if nothing is done urgently, a lot of small-scale miners borrow money to produce and it might affect a lot of livelihoods.”
Another small-scale miner, Tawanda Mawema, told the committee large tracts of land occupied by big mining concerns — which were endowed with good quality chrome — were lying idle and said government should release some of the land to small-scale miners.
However, sources told NewsDay while the federation had now approached the parliamentary committee to assist in lobbying government for the lifting of the ban, they used to despise it when it was investigating diamond issues in Chiadzwa and labelled it “puppets of British imperialists”.
During the meeting, chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee Edward Chindori-Chininga advised the federation to be organised as a lot of changes had taken place in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, where Secretary Thankful Musukutwa was last week transferred to another ministry.