- March 24, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
THE Government will soon close the majority of gold milling centres dotted around the country on suspicion of under declaration and also hit hard on truant mining houses owing it a cumulative amount of more than $500 million in unpaid fees as it seeks to curb leakages and boost its coffers.
In an interview with Sunday News Business on the sidelines of a small-scale forum held in Bulawayo last Wednesday, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura confirmed the disbursement of a crack Gold Mobilisation team to investigate activities at all the country’s gold centres after suspicions of underhand dealings and failure to account for the yellow metal processed at their plants.
“The gold mobilisation team went around all the provinces and identified some millers who were not declaring their production to Fidelity Printers and also observed illegal mining by some miners. So they will be going around again to find out whether whatever they recommended was done or not and it’s unfortunate that some millers are going to be shut down because they failed to comply. I’m not sure about the numbers but a lot of them, maybe 60 percent of millers,” he said.
“There are a lot of things that will be happening behind the scenes. So a lot of millers were found wanting. What it means is that a lot of gold is leaving the country through the back door so we want every gramme (of gold) to be accounted for,” he said.
Dep Minister Kambamura said the Government was in the process of giving most of the big mining houses with overdue mining fees a time frame to honour their debts or it would “come hard” on them.
“Currently we are owed about $506 million in unpaid mining fees so we are coming hard and we are going to give them a time frame to pay whether they are going to pay or come up with a payment plan that they will honour and we are not going to take that lightly,” he said.
“The problem that is happening now is that we are saying we are “open for business” but the whole country is pegged up and there is no activity. For your own information we got some claims, which were pegged in 1924 by Rhodesian companies and have been paying the mine fees . . . so we need to open up the ground if we are to be very productive and serious about opening the country for business in the mining sector. We have to release the ground, either you mine or you lose it,” he said.
Last week President Mnangagwa said mining companies holding onto claims should either use them or risk losing them to the State even if they are paying fees to keep the claims. He said there were some big conglomerates that have been holding on to mining claims for more than 60 years, thereby denying new players an opportunity to venture into the mining sector._The Sunday News