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Stringent mining laws affect artisanal miners

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ARTISANAL miners are selling their gold for as low as $27 per gramme compared to market prices of around $44 due to stringent mining laws that make it difficult for them to dispose of their gold through legal channels, an official has said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Officially opening the Matabeleland North province alternative mining indaba on Friday in Bubi district, Minister of State in Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office, Clifford Sibanda said there was need for the government to revisit the Gold Trade Act to allow for the ease of handling and transportation of gold to buying centres.

“Notwithstanding the aforesaid, Zimbabwe continues to lose most of its gold to illegal buyers and smugglers that take it to neighbouring countries,” he said.

“It is believed that the stringent mining laws, as contained in the Gold Trade Act, make it difficult for artisanal miners to dispose of their gold through legal channels, a process that also does not favour them as they end up selling their gold for as low as $27 per gramme compared to market prices of around $44 per gramme.

“It is in this spirit that we are here today to try and find ways that will promote gold output and also discourage its illegal export by these criminals, a process that will require the formalisation of artisanal miners.”

Sibanda said issues of the ease of doing business that have been raised by small scale miners so far included the allocation of mining land from reserved areas, such as EPOs (special grants) to small scale and artisanal miners; issuing out of mining land that is easy to work, and with a rich ore.

“Other issues are implementation of the use it or lose it policy on mining claims; reduction in mining costs including the speeding up of mine registration and attendant constraints, costs and levies; to engage universities and the School of Mines metallurgy, geology, and surveyor students on attachment, and those that were not yet employed, to work with the small scale miners,” he said.

Sibanda said there was need to use the $40 million Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe facility to mechanise existing small scale mines, then invite private capital for new mine entrants, to engage the banks to accept gold sales records and geological survey reports as collateral; to appeal to large scale miners, as part of their corporate social responsibility, to assist small scale miners with geological surveys and other related technical assistance.

“Set up gold processing and buying service centres in gold-rich areas and improve surveillance in all mills,” he said.

“Also instal efficient recovery hammer mills (possibly up to 80%, from current 40%) and act on gold barons and ensure orderly mining in all areas.”

There is need also to ensure the 51:49% policy on all foreign owned mines and gold milling plants as well, Sibanda said.

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