Government has, with immediate effect, slashed mining licence fees for small-scale miners to avoid leakages and ensure the viability in the sector, a Cabinet minister said yesterday.
Speaking at the official launch of the Mining Loan Fund at Master Cecil Mine in Bubi, Matabeleland North Province, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu said the move was not political.
“From today, gazetted licence fees have been reduced and all officials are in agreement. Some people might say its politics, but it’s pure economics,” he said, adding the new figures would be announced soon.
However, Mpofu said licence fees for large-scale miners would remain unchanged.
He accused large-scale miners of making smaller remittances compared to their counterparts in the small-scale mining sector.
“Between January and March, small-scale miners contributed one tonne of gold to the economy,” he said.
In February this year, government increased the mining fees to between $3 000 and $5 million in a move that courted the ire of small-scale miners who viewed it as a ploy to kick them out of the industry and bring in foreign players.
Mpofu also said he had engaged Finance minister Tendai Biti for a possible scrapping of presumptive tax on small-scale miners.
The Zanu PF Umguza MP, who last week advocated for the legalisation of gold panning activities, said his ministry was pushing for the opening-up of more gold-buying centres countrywide to encourage gold dealers to sell their gold on the formal market.
“In India and China, their economies are thriving because of what they call cottage industries,” he said.
“Informal traders do not want to be asked many questions but here in Zimbabwe, we do that and that is affecting our economy.”
Last week, President Robert Mugabe called on the panners to be orderly and not go around digging and degrading the environment.