- August 31, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
The artisanal and small scale mining industry is on an upward trajectory in Zimbabwe and is estimated to be supporting over 1,5 million Zimbabweans. As a fairly new industry, it is faced with a myriad of challenges that can be overcome if proper solutions are put in place.
This article was written by a Small-scale miner highlighting the many challenges faced by small-scale and artisanal miners in Zimbabwe.
1. ELECTRIFICATION OF CLAIM/MINE
We understand the high cost involved in the daily operation of our mines due to the continuous request and purchase of cell batteries and head torches. Also the high cost of operating using a generator or fuel-driven machines. Electrifying mines will increase production and reduce the cost making our minerals competitive on the market, as well as save the use of firewood. Sometimes as citizens we do have solutions but wheels of government turn slowly to embrace ideas that can transform an industry like putting all small-scale mines under green energy, solar energy stations.
2. EQUIPMENT AND MACHINERY
Zimbabwe local miners do have a mammoth task in acquiring machinery and equipment, as a lot of money is required hence the miner will be juggling between daily operations, government fees and charges, family and equipment. Miners are left with no option but to work within their means, resulting in failed targets, goals or below daily production. The end result will be an unsustainable mining operation.
3. MINING FIELD OFFICERS
Just like in agriculture, the growth of a sector or industry is archived by a collective effort being government and the stakeholders. Artisanal miners would not grow as long as they don’t have government or ministry personnel to help them with mining and underground challenges they encounter on daily basis. With the background of poverty, lack of proper education and lack of employment most people find their way into mining but without the knowledge of the industry. The end result of this kind of venture is the loss of little saved finances, loss of lives, injuries, use of
wrong mining methods, time wasted without production etc.
4. MINES or CLAIM FORTITURES
A lot of claims or mines are being lost to big guys with money regardless of the artisanal who invested their entire earnings on claims or mines. We call upon the government to set up a system whereby ministries are interlinked or
connected. The need for the interlink is, to ease the renewal, gold or mineral sales, payments or registration, such that the process would be a one-stop-shop. What we propose is for example a gold miner, once he produces his gold and sold it to fidelity all charges and costs to do with his mine or claim be deducted and forwarded onwards to relevant ministries and authorities. The invoices or receipts the miners get from fidelity should be the only important documents miners should safeguard as records.
5. EXPLORATION OF CLAIMS/MINING AREAS
For the benefit of our country, the government through the ministries should carry out exploration such that miners won’t waste resources in speculating. If a model from a country like Tanzania as presented on the ZMF summit on 21-22 March 2018, that the government through mining association carry out surveys and explorations for the artisanal and small to medium scale miners before they are given claims. On this backdrop, a lot of hardworking and productive men and women will work tirelessly for their country to prosper. Let there be a scheme to assist in the exploration, there are machines which can be used like gold and reef detectors but to a small-scale miner, it’s costly hence the need for government to assist and recover its dues on sales.
6. INCLUSION OF CHIEFS
Chiefs should be included in the mines and minerals act as they also play a pivotal role in the mining activities. By virtue of being the custodians or guardians of the whole mineral resource areas, nothing or no mining activities happen without their involvement and participation as evident by some requirements of the EIA.
7. FAST DEPLETABLE MINERALS
May they be exclusively be reserved for locals or citizens. The likes of gemstones and alike minerals. If diamonds are reserved only for the government then, why not reserve the rest which the government doesn’t want to locals than to say it’s free for all foreigners and locals. The government must let foreigners be buyers and locals be producers or miners.
8. LICENCING OF GEMSTONE DEALERS OR AGENTS
The current position is that the government has no clear position on the gemstone trade only to say MMCZ is the sole marketing arm of government. Having MMCZ as the sole arm of government a lot of trade opportunities are being lost, as already the department is overwhelmed with other minerals like chrome etc hence the need to
bring in local Zimbabwean players to facilitate the trade. As the gemstone dealers or agents are licensed, they will be able to issue legal documents or invoices which can be presented at points of exiting the country like airports and borders when a buyer intends to travel out of the country with the gemstones. The legal documents will indicate that the buyer had paid the full price inclusive of taxes and royalties to X agent or dealer whose document will be computed for cross-reference by the revenue collector.
9. ZIMRA DUTY ON MINING EQUIPMENT AND MACHINES
May our parliamentarians change the ZIMRA law or regulations and incorporate artisanal, small to medium scale mining such that it may have promotions on mining equipment in such a way that duties and taxies are not
chargeable so as to grow the small scale mining industry. The equipment should include the likes of jackhammers, underground head torches, ropes nylon and wire ropes, bits etc.
10. ROYALTIES AND LEVIES
May the government direct part of the royalties and levies collected to road rehabilitation, because in most areas where the minerals came from, the road network is in a very bad state. We all know once the minerals are finished, no mine or miner will ever come back to rehabilitate the roads for a loss.
11. HIGHWAYS AND TOLGATES vs MIN OF HEALTH
May the government share the income generated by the highways and tollgate with the ministry of health as more and more casualties come from accidents and once at hospital patience are faced with lack of medicine or
treatment. This facility will be able to assist or improve our health sector such that even miners who ply the roads get the best help on time and return back to work well and fit.
12. SYNERGIES WITHIN MINISTRIES AND GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS
We have noted the disengagement of ministries and departments in the industry whereby production can be
increased or improved. Giving some examples, the ministry of mines should work with the ministry of transport in such a way that all the mining dump or waste will be used in road construction and maintenance. Mining pits that carry lots of groundwater can be used in agriculture for farming projects like fish farming, horticulture and many others. Miners drain a lot of underground water which is clean and EMA OR ZIMWA can construct water bodies or dams where miners pump their wastewater which will be utilized by the farmers.
Currently in Zimbabwe, there is no law which is specifically for small scale mining, the same laws for mining apply to both small scale, artisanal, and big mines. Having one shoe fits all principle cripples the operation of the small scale mining sector as there are a lot of challenges faced, from the capital, equipment, labour, mine regularization, etc as all these are self-funded with no access to loans. There should be a law which protects small scale miners, if endangered animal species have laws which protect them why not a sector or industry where human beings and families are concerned.
14. LACK OF INSTITUTIONS
The government is not doing enough in setting up essential institutions like schools, hospitals and shopping centers for small-scale miners to feel at home wherever they will be mining. Lack of these essential facilities will cause miners to abandon their families in search of mining fortunes thereby creating distant relationships with family and friends. Also, it’s a health hazard as miners do have high chances of contracting deadly diseases.
15. LEGAL MATTERS
May government come up with a mining court/s where matters relating to mining are resolved effectively and fast as we have noted with great concern that, more cases end up taking more time to be resolved because the courts handling the cases will be overwhelmed with many other cases and are not versed with the industry.
16. LACK OF POLICY ON SECURITY IN THE MINING SECTOR
Small scale miners have become a target of lazy people in the mining sector in form of robbers, murderers, thieves and rapists. As a country, we are now faced with a group or gangs of machete-wielding people who claim to be miners but in actual fact, being thieves and robbers. As we have noticed these gangs had become another force if not carefully dealt with, we are breeding terror groups to which the government at one point in time will have to face them in a fierce battle. It’s another guerilla war in the making. Currently, the police have no capacity nor chance to deal with these terror gangs. As a country, we are losing hard-working citizens day by day through machete inflicted deaths. There should be laws to protect miners from these groups. We would propose stiffer sentences on the perpetrators because if stock theft has not less than 9 years, why not protect human lives than animals. The perpetrators should be given hard labour in the mines to reduce our cost of production, as they will be working in
government mines like ZMDC, ZIMASCO, ZIMALLOYS, in the coal, chrome, limestone and other industrial minerals which are beneficial to various sectors. We also believe that if the presidential powers act incorporates this issue as a matter of urgency we hope sanity will prevail. These gangs are economic saboteurs. These gangs are the ones promoting heavy leakages as their loot or minerals will be sold to the highest bidder and with no trace.
Small-scale mining operations do require financing in order to succeed with better repayment rates and flexible terms and conditions. Most small scale miners resort to disposing of their assets and small savings in order to start up the mining operations. May the government through its institutions like NSSA whose monies are being looted by
thieves in authority be channelled to the miners who are currently contributing to the country’s financial basket.
18. VALUABLE MINERALS BEING WASTED.
We have noticed that valuable minerals are being wasted due to ignorance and lack of synergies between ministries, communities and mining associations. May we give an example of the current Norton – Bulawayo highway construction, we did notice that iron ore with 52.33%, red oxide ore with 19.68% iron (Tested by Department of metallurgy on the 6th of May 2019 certificate no. 000739C), Gold and 2 more other mineral ores which we could not identify due to lack of technical as well as technological support are being used as waste raw material in the
The second area of concern is the raw materials, river-sand being used by the Chinese tile factory. We believe most of our rivers consist of alluvial gold and other mineral elements. On the 9th of May 2016, just a paragraph in the Chronicle says “Excavation associated with the upgrading of the Kariba South power station along the shores of Lake Kariba led to the discovery of Gold & Platinum group of mineral deposits.
Discoveries were made during sand abstraction in Gache Gache. Our plea is, may the so-called raw materials from mining be extracted off the minerals before being used. Also, may the government allow knowledge transfer between the so-called technical people (surveyors, geologists etc) and the miners or associations in order to boost the Industry. Once miners are equipped they will be able to use the knowledge, in mining various minable minerals
like copper, manganese, gemstones, iron, tantalite etc.
19. LACK OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FROM FOREIGN INVESTORS OR MINES
From a community point of view, we were better off without these miners or so-called investors. They are busy looting our minerals and ores, giving far less or nothing to the community. Our people are suffering more day by day from lack of better roads being destroyed by miners, poor wages, salaries and working conditions when employed, lack of health facilities and schools while minerals worth billions of dollars are vanishing from our communities. Giving an example of Afrochine plying our communities in search of the much-needed chrome ores to feed their smelter but nothing has been done since their establishment to make our roads state of the art or just better so that when they leave, we have something to show for.
May the government push for a side by side community development with the investor during their business setup, rather than for them to prioritize their business and the community last, while they got the very minerals first from the community. A community master plan must be availed before any commencement of works.
20. LACK OF RESPECT TO OUR TRADITIONAL CULTURE AND VALUES.
Most of our foreign investors do lack respect for our traditional culture and values. May the responsible authorities enlighten them that we are a country rooted in our beliefs and values. We have places and areas which cannot be mined because of zviera and midzimu yedu but because it is investment, we noticed that most of the sacred areas are being penetrated by the so-called investors in the name of prospecting and exploration, later on, mining. A good example is the Chinese mining at Nharira hills. Our chiefs and local leaders have no value or meaning to the foreign investors.
21. EXCLUSIVE PROSPECTING ORDERS (E.P.O)
Since most Zimbabweans are readily geared to venture into mining, we believe these orders should not nor never be issued. Zimbabwe is open for business as the presidents’ mantra, but EPOs are closing down Zimbabwe’s business. The country has been prospected by these foreign investors for years now, what we require as a country is production. It is known the world over, that Zimbabwe has vast deposits of minerals like chrome, gold, lithium, tantalite, manganese, platinum etc, but year in and year out, the country is always being blanketed with EPOS.
22. LACK OF IMPROVEMENT ON THE DEPARTMENT OF METALLURGY
May the powers being, do visit the department and see for themselves that the department needs to be revamped or refurbished. As miners, when searching for investors, partners or markets we require credible test results that meet international standards. Please, we beg you, may something be done to improve the metallurgy department. We are issued with test results but due to their state, sometimes we doubt their accuracy.
23. MINER, FARMER DISPUTE.
We believe both parties play pivotal roles in our economy hence the need to look at this issue holistically. A farmer requires surface area for farming and a miner requires ground area for mining. As a country, we need to come up with models that are suitable and in tandem with the MINISTRY OF AGRICULTUREs farm zoning, that is, A1, A2 AND Commercial farm. As a suggestion, if per se, a miner wishes to register a mine or claim in a 20 hector farm size let him be allowed only 5 hectors surface area so that he spares more space for a farmer than to take up a big surface area which may not be used at all.
24. ISSUANCE OF SPECIAL GRANTS
May the government really be serious in this regards, if it requires the industry to grow. At this time and age, we expect and anticipate the smooth flow of the process but in the special grant process, it’s a nightmare, as we are advised that the board which does approvals seats once or twice a month and honestly for the whole country. This process brings about a window to corruption and injustice to locals as they will be spending more money in following up. In some cases, two years pass without even a response hence those with hard cash getting what they
wish. May something be done as a matter of urgency.
Written by Privelage Moyo. Moyo is a miner, a registered gemstone buyer and Chairman of Norton Miners Association. He writes in his personal capacity.