GOLD service centres, which the Government intends to establish across the country by mid 2022, will help plug suspected widespread smuggling of the precious mineral out of the country, a Cabinet Minister has said.
The centres will provide one-stop processing facilities for small scale miners, including gold milling and metallurgical services to ensure optimum recovery of the yellow metal.
A number of gold centres are currently owned by private players, which small scale miners say charge exorbitant prices and undervalue delivered gold.
Zimbabwe’s mining sector, especially the extraction of gold, has lately been characterised by illicit leakages of gold and it is believed the establishment of gold centres could help restrict obscure movement of the yellow metal. Gold sector carries huge potential for the
Zimbabwean economy with small scale miners producing about 60 percent of gold receipts which has necessitated consistent efforts to support their production.
The mineral, together with platinum group metals (PGMs), are the largest foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe, accounting for more than half the country’s annual export earnings.
Largely driven by key minerals, among them gold, PGMs, chrome, nickel, diamond and coal, Zimbabwe’s mining sector is expected to register 11 percent growth, which will be instrumental in driving overall projected economic growth of 7,8 percent this year.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the aim was to harness all the gold towards the set goal to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
“Gold centres will facilitate the miners in the vicinity serviced with equipment and working capital in form of consumables to ensure that there is optimal delivery of ore to the gold centre and the gold centres will have Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) representatives, who will buy and pay cash for the delivered gold.
“This is to make sure that all the gold produced is harnessed towards the US$12 billion,” said Minister Chitando.
Gold service centres are aimed at giving the miners access to equipment and transportation services. The Cabinet has approved proposals for the establishment of gold centres across the country. Areas targeted for the facilities include Makaha, Odzi, Mount Darwin, Shamva, Mazowe and Silobela.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials will also be stationed at the centres directly or through approved buying agencies so as to buy all the gold produced.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said part of the funds to be unlocked from the Special Drawing Right by the International Monetary Fund to Zimbabwe will support gold mining initiatives.
“…the idea is to invest in at least 10 gold centres across the country, which will help Government manage gold leakage while supporting the young small scale miners with needed support and capital,” he said
Traditionally, Zimbabwe issues 2 500 mining titles per annum but due to increased appetite to invest in mining, applications have soared to about 15 000 per annum, a 500 percent increase. Zimbabwe is home to the world’s third-biggest reserves of gold, platinum,
diamond, chrome, iron ore, coal, lithium, and other minerals and a revived minerals sector would go a long way in fuelling an economic turnaround.