BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE culture of informality in artisanal and small-scale mining remains a barrier towards formalisation of the sector, a new report has revealed.
The report titled: Formalisation of Artisanal and Small-scale Mining Sector in Zimbabwe: Particularly Gold Sector” prepared by Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers’ Union general-secretary Justice Chinhema, reveals that formalisation of small-scale miners is a mammoth task.
“Culture of informality in artisanal and small-scale mining is an underlying barrier that makes formalisation difficult because some believe that ‘as long as they could continue working and trading informally, without paying taxes (there is no problem),” part of the report read.
“Artisanal small-scale miners admit that for many years they did not legalise because of fear of the costs of compliance, the excessive high entry fees in the form of technical, environmental, legal and economic requirements.”
“Some indicated that they simply did not want to pay taxes and want to be allowed to continue to work indefinitely while legalisation papers being processed perpetuated a culture of informality,” it says.
Chinhema said considering the culture of informality that prevails in Zimbabwe, and the past failures of government to deliver on requests for legalisation, there is no guarantee that this time around miners would formalise their operations.
Zimbabwe’s small-scale mining sector is characterised by widespread informality.
About 60% of all mining operations in Zimbabwe, according to the report, are classified as artisanal and small-scale while 40% are considered to be large-scale operations.
Over one million Zimbabweans depend directly on artisanal and small-scale mining for their livelihoods.
Chinhema said the informality deprived the country of important revenue, while poor conditions and the absence of a legal framework, prevented the sector from delivering on important social objectives, such as generating formal employment and improving quality of life in mining districts.
The report recommended that government should prioritise and fund the national formalisation policy, reduce processing timeframes for mining applications, make more land available for artisanal and small-scale miners, create stronger relations with communities where mining will be taking place, define a progressive and step-wise approach to formalisation, among others.
Informal miners have been accused of not delivering gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a situation that is making it difficult for government to grow the economy.
The small-scale miners, however, are currently contributing around 60% of all the gold that is being delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.