MMCZ fights minerals plunder with drones

MMCZ acting general manager Nomsa Moyo

THE Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is investing in new technology including drones and remote operating systems, to curb mineral leakages, businessdigest can report.

Zimbabwe, according to reports, is losing up to US$1 billion in revenue from smuggling along its porous borders.

The leakages are prevalent across all minerals, with the gold sector at the top, a report by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services showed.

MMCZ acting general manager Nomsa Moyo told businessdigest that they had started investing in drone technology.

She, however, would not disclose the budget for the project.

Drones, according to experts, can perform a wide range of mining applications including exploration, mapping, surveying, maintaining safety and enhancing security, and they have shown exceptional results by facilitating greater data collection, improving safety, and enhancing productivity.

Recent years have seen drones becoming more popular in the mining industry, with many mining sites investing in drone technology.

“To minimise mineral leakages, the corporation collects samples to averify declared mineral quality, conducts random pre and post loading inspections, roadblocks and stock audits and investigates cases of smuggling before handing defaulters to ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) for prosecution,” she told businessdigest this week.

“The corporation is currently funding refurbishment and construction of weighbridges to verify weights declared by producers as well as investing in the use of new technology including drones and remote operating systems. The use of drones and remote operating systems will ensure that illegal exports of minerals are timely detected.”

Moyo said reducing mineral leakages in Zimbabwe required strengthening regulatory frameworks, improving technological infrastructure, enhancing enforcement mechanisms, and promoting transparency and collaboration between stakeholders in the minerals sector.

“In this regard, the corporation will continue to engage other relevant stakeholders that regulate the extraction and movement of all mineral products in Zimbabwe such Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, ZRP-Minerals Flora & Fauna, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Fidelity Printers and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development through consultative meetings, workshops and holding joint operations,” she said.

Minerals smuggling, according to Moyo, may include under declaration of cargo (value and weight), false declarations of mineral type, quality or grade on export documents, loading fraud where a totally different product of higher value is loaded, connivance between producers and third parties, use of forged export documents and complete disregard for all laws relating to mining and export of minerals.

The 2022 Parliamentary committee report disclosed that a lot of gold was being smuggled due to a number of factors which include delays in payment to gold producers, porous land borders, inadequate equipment and personnel at the ports of entry and exit, and illegal milling and mining operations.

But Fidelity Gold Refinery general manager Peter Magaramombe said the sole gold buyer was well-resourced to buy all the yellow metal delivered to it.

“There was no time when we had no cash at our centres. People just lie around and say Fidelity has no cash. They will be just lying to our customers, so that at the end of the day our customers will go to them. That's the thing. As far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing,” he said.

Related Topics