Capital deficit depress small-scale gold mining

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Small-scale gold miners are struggling to reach full potential due to shortage of mining assets and unavailability of funds, female miners said during a mining indaba held in Shurugwi yesterday.

By Simon Phiri

The indaba, organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela), was crafted to close the gap between the government, extractive firms and communities, and draw collective measures to ensure sustainable development.

Speaking on the sidelines of the indaba, women mining gold in parts of Guruve took turns to lament the lack of machinery key in increasing productivity.

They all pinpointed the unavailability of a milling machine in and around Guruve, a development which they said compelled them to travel close to 200km to Shamva to have their ore refined.

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Much of the gold produced in the process, they stated, is gobbled up by transport costs from the mining claims to milling points, thereby depleting gains.

“The major challenge we are having is that we don’t have equipment and machinery — especially milling machines or at least transport because the closest mill around Guruve is 200km away in Shamva,” said Petronella Manyepa, one of the small-scale gold miners in the area.

“Sometimes we are charged up to 30g of gold which in most cases will be half of our total output. Guruve has lots of gold, but the only issue retarding us is the lack of machinery such as compressors.”

Added Manyepa: “Sometimes we continue mining out of passion, but to be frank, the profits are so low mainly due to transport costs which can be reduced if we are to have at least one mill in Guruve.”

In other areas along the Great Dyke, small-scale miners said milling machines were readily available, but lamented the lack of key extractive equipment which are safer and more efficient.

Safety has always been a concern in the small-scale mining activities and there are rampant reports of cases of miners perishing or getting seriously injured during processes of gold ore extraction.