- November 9, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
A local publication last week wrote an article alleging security service chiefs were concerned about the rampant gold smuggling from the country and had resolved that several licences will be cancelled and stakeholders will be vetted before another certificate is issued,” the publication said.
Whilst it is commendable that service chiefs are concerned about leakage questions Mining Zimbabwe has always raised arise once more.
Is a license cancellation the solution? Will the buyers then stop operating or will continue buying but without the required paperwork? Who will replace the void left by the buyers? Will Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) increase its footprint in the country?
Fidelity needs to be fully capacitated
Currently, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) website lists 11 branches outside Harare in Bulawayo, Gwanda, Kadoma, Mutare, Bindura, Gweru, Kwekwe, Zvishavane, Chinhoyi, Filabusi and Masvingo.
In an interview last year with the deputy Mines and Mining Development Minister Hon Polite Kambamura he stressed the need for a gold buying entity to create a mutual relationship with small-scale and artisanal miners.
According to the Deputy Minister, the state-owned gold buying utility should find a way to make themselves visible in gold mining areas in order to save the miners’ time.
“It is crucial for Fidelity to be present in all the areas where mining is taking place in order to beat illegal buyers”
“In Makaha area in Mutoko, there is no gold buyer which means that the miner has to travel to Marondera to sell, which to some extent is not practical considering that some can only produce a gram,” said the Honorable Deputy Minister.
In this case should buyers permits be suspended, a Norton miner will have to travel about 100km to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) Kadoma. The journey is time-consuming and miners will not be comfortable travelling such long distances daily to sell a few grams. Fidelity is also known not to buy anything less than 5 grammes meaning those with less will have to still find alternative markets.
Better long term solution
Possession of a License, Location and the availability of cash is a magnet that will almost guarantee Zimbabwe of higher gold submission from miners.
A fully capacitated Fidelity and an end to its monopoly is part of a long term solution to challenges currently faced in the gold mining industry. Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) branches should be in each and every town where there is gold production and the government should ensure that the sole buyer never ever runs out of cash.
It is mind-boggling that a Gold rich area like Chegutu does not have a Fidelity branch and also Zimbabwe only has 11 branches of Fidelity in a country where gold is found in every district.
It is also highly unlikely that miners will bother going to the sole buyer if they will not be paid immediately after submitting their gold. It is also unlikely that unregistered miners, who apparently account for the bulk of ASM, will submit their gold to Fidelity for fear of victimization and arrest.
The ban or suspension of gold buying permits will automatically convert the former holders to official illegal buyers as there is no immediate solution to replace those who fail the vetting process. Fidelity like the Post Office needs to be everywhere and in the words of one of the most respected Zimbabwe Miners Engineer Chris Murove:-
“Fidelity needs to have a nationwide presence as close to the miners as possible. This helps a miner’s cash flow management” said Engineer Murove.
Deliveries to the country’s sole buyer Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) have drastically reduced and smuggling is suspected to be the chief culprit. Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) officials have denied knowledge of gold buying permits getting cancelled but should the permits be cancelled if there is no increase in buying centres we are just creating a new problem.