BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S small-scale miners could produce an average of three tonnes of gold per month if the current 1,5 million unregistered miners were registered and brought into the mainstream economy, an official has said.
Addressing delegates attending the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining indaba in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation chief executive officer Wellington Takavarasha said small-scale and artisanal miners had capacity to produce more gold if the government could come up with light-handed policies for them.
“We have 35 000 people that are registered in terms of the Mines and Minerals Act and 1,5 million that are illegal miners. So if you look at the percentages, it’s 84% of the people that are illegal and only 16% are legal,” he said.
Takavarasha said the 84% informal miners were not delivering their gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a situation that would make it difficult for government to grow the economy, basing on the mining sector.
He pleaded with government to review the Mines and Minerals Act, which lacks direct policies that benefit both small-scale and artisanal gold miners.
“I would say let’s bring this 84% to the mainstream economy so that the government can get revenue. If you look at the 22 tonnes that was produced last year, if we were going to get at least a gram from 1,5 million per month, that is 1,5 tonnes every month from this informal sector, combined with formal sector where we get two tonnes, so which means the average that we will be able to be getting is three tonnes,” he said.
Takavarasha said improved regulations will have a positive impact on the overall performance of Zimbabwe’s gold mining industry.
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In response to Takavarasha’s submission, Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Onesimo Moyo said government was currently seized with the matter through the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
He hoped that the Bill would address all challenges affecting small-scale miners such as fees structure for mining licences, among others.
The small-scale miners are currently contributing around 60% of all the gold that is being delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Gold is one of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency earners, having accounted for US$1,2 billion in annual forex receipts in 2018, translating close to a third of total export earnings.
This year, government projects a 40-tonne gold produce.