Small-scale miners have bemoaned the failure by government to disburse the $50 million loan facility to support local companies involved in the manufacturing of mining and mineral processing equipment.
BY TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI
The facility was launched last year by the Industry ministry.
The objective of the fund was to boost small-scale mining through the provision of specific and relevant equipment for artisanal miners, who import most of their machinery, therefore, is a saving on foreign currency and consequently boosting their production.
Speaking at an investment summit in Harare on Wednesday, Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation president Ishmael Kaguru expressed disappointment at the delay by government in disbursing the loan facility, which would come in handy in boosting mineral production by small-scale miners.
Kaguru said to date, nothing had been received by the manufacturers and this had slowed down growth of the small-scale mining sector.
“We appreciate government efforts to incentivise small scale miners through loans from Fidelity Printers & Refiners. We would also want the $50 million facility that was meant to be accessed by the small-scale miners’ equipment manufacturers,” he said.
Kaguru said there was need for the introduction of a mining mechanisation programme drawing parallels with the agriculture sector, which has the command agriculture programme, underlining this would beyond any reasonable doubt boost the sector.
“Small-scale mining is a force to reckon with in the economy because over three million people depend directly or indirectly their livelihood on the small scale mining sector. We need a well-supported mechanisation mining programme like that which the government is doing with the farmers,” Kaguru said.
Responding to some of the demands raised by the artisanal miners, Mines minister Winston Chitando reassured government’s commitment towards the growth of the sector which he said contributed 50% of the 26 tonnes of gold delivered to Fidelity Printers for 2017.
“My ministry in particular will move to establish a small miners’ desk, which specifically deals with issues pertaining to their operations. We are aware of issues to do with licenses costs and even explosives and I can tell you that all these issues (grievances) are being looked at,” he said.