BY VANESSA GONYE
The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela) has implored government to make a downward review of the recently hiked mining fees as most small-scale miners cannot afford them.
In a statement, Zela said some small-scale miners were finding it difficult to afford the previous fees and the new fees would just increase their woes.
Zela said the latest development would hinder progress in the mineral value chain.
An ordinary prospecting licence was previously capped at $1 000 and is now US$100, which is $8 300 at the prevailing auction rate.
Registration as an approved prospector now costs US$4 000 up from $20 000, with an application for revocation of forfeiture now US$1 000, up from $5 000. Application for a mining lease is now US$2 000, up from $10 000.
Other charges that were increased included application for a special mining lease, which is now pegged at US$5 000, up from $50 000, while an application for protection against forfeiture is now US$100, up from $500.
Mines minister Winston Chitando also pegged an application for a special grant to mine at US$2 000, up from $10 000.
This increase also includes a custom milling licence of US$2 000, up from $25 000 per year and the fine for operating without custom milling licence now stands at US$5 000, up from $25 000.
“The recently announced charges will have implications on the participation of locals in the mineral value chain. Recently there have been efforts to revamp the industry to make sure that it contributes the expected US$12 billion to the economy. The high fees are now exclusionary and will force the local ASM [artisanal and small-scale miners] to engage more in illegal lower tires of the value chain,” the Zela statement read.
“Increasing the licensing fees by 800% defies logic to formalise and promote business ventures in the artisanal and small-scale mining space. The move has potential to exacerbate corruption and illicit smuggling.”
Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer Wellington Takavarasha said: “The newly gazetted prices have shocked us as ZMF. We have started engaging the minister, who is also ZMF patron, to have the fees revised downwards looking at the economic fundamentals. The new fees will obviously see a surge in illegal mining activities against the formalisation zeal.”
Zimbabwe roughly has about 30 000 registered small-scale miners and about 1 500 000 illegal miners.