Inside Mining Zimbabwe with Rudairo Dickson Mapuranga (RD) met the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development Polite Kambamura (PK) (aged 42 ). Polite Kambamura is also a Member of Parliament for the Sanyati constituency to discuss mining matters as well as answering some pertinent questions which have been frequently asked by miners for some time.
RD Good day Hon Polite Kambamura welcome to Inside Mining Zimbabwe with Rudairo. Miners would like to know about your brief mining background before you became the Deputy Minister, can you please share in brief?
PK Thank you Mapuranga. I’m an engineer by profession, graduated from the University of Zimbabwe in 2002 with a Bsc (Hon) Mining Engineering. I worked in several mines in Zimbabwe which include Trojan Nickel Mine, Shamva Mine (LONRITO) and Ashanti Goldfields. I went to South Africa where I increased my knowledge in mining, working in several mines starting from junior positions to management. Then I came back to Zimbabwe where I joined politics. In 2018 I was duly elected Sanyati constituency legislator then his Excellency the President of Zimbabwe Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed me to the position of Deputy Minister where I’m serving right
RD Hon Kambamura, farmers have been complaining that their land is being destroyed by illegal miners and also that they sometimes lose land to unscrupulous people who come to them with fake mining titles and by the time they discover that the claims are fake, the damage would have been done on their lands already. Did you ever come across such a report and what advice can you give to farmers?
PK It is very unfortunate that such things are happening in the mining sector, the reports haven’t reached my desk yet but my advice, however, is that farmers should report such cases to our provincial offices so that they can verify if the mining titles brought buy the miners are real. This should also be reported to the police because we might have a cartel amidst us that is working on creating these fake concessions. Reporting to the police might lead us to
something that we are unaware of.
So I urge the farmers to work closely with law enforcement agents so that the whole issue of this scam may be brought to light as soon as possible.
Then on illegal miners who come to Nicodemusly to mine on the farmer’s land, I urge the farmers to tighten their security and report such incidents to the police. The farmers also need to come up with associations to deal with these illegal mining activities.
RD Gold delivery to the country’s sole gold buyer and exporter Fidelity Printers and Refineries took a knock in the
first half of the year compared to last year receiving only 15 tonnes of gold, last year Fidelity received 33.2 tonnes
of gold and 17 in the first quarter. Are you still hopeful that the target of 40 tonnes this year can be reached?
PK We are very hopeful that the gold production target of 40 tonnes will still be reached, we haven’t lost hope. However, the challenge is we are only recording gold delivery to Fidelity Printers and Refineries yet on the ground when it comes to the small scale mining sector, the real prospecting hasn’t stopped. As the Ministry, we are working on policies that will attract artisanal and small scale miners to sell their production to Fidelity. So that we curb leakages that are reportedly very rampant.
RD Hon Deputy Minister, Fidelity Printers and Refineries appears to be selling their gold at a better price than most illegal buyers according to my research. Nevertheless, small scale and artisanal miners would still sell their gold to illegal buyers avoiding fidelity, what could be the problem?
PK There is not much that needs to be done in order to attract small scale and artisanal miners to sell their gold to fidelity printers and refineries. The sole gold buyer should know that sometimes it is about creating a relationship between the buyer and the seller that is why black market gold buyers are winning. And also in terms of strategy, Fidelity needs to give licenses to many gold Agents that will actually be on the ground where the mining is taking place. Some miners do not actually care about whether they are paid in US dollar or not, what they want is the true value of their production that they can be given right away without too much delay. For example in Makaha, the
area has small scale mining activity taking place but there is no Fidelity Agent near the area or nearby Mutoko centre. The miners are therefore expected to board a bus to Marondera the capital of Mashonaland East province. Can we expect a miner to go that far to sell only a gram of gold?
I also suggest that Fidelity should pay small scale and artisanal miners in cash because the majority doesn’t have bank accounts and some would want to use their money instantly as they are paid. It is therefore advisable to give small scale miners all their balances in cash, by so doing Fidelity would have curbed gold leakages.
We have discovered that small scale miners actually sign equipment agreement deals with buyers and sometimes they are given money upfront for food and other consumables. That’s is why we are going to establish gold milling centres right where mining is taking place so that we can create a mutual relationship with the miners, selling equipment at very affordable prices. This will encourage miners to do business with us, therefore, will be able to record a high gold delivery and we may even surpass our gold target.
RD Small scale miners are advocating for the removal of EPOs so that mining production takes place. Do you as the Minister think it’s wise for the government to drop the gazetting of EPOs?
PK Exclusive prospecting orders is a largemarea of ground targeting the selected minerals for exploration, the maximum is 65,000 hectares, and the tenure currently for these EPOs is three years. Firms doing high technical exploration are required by the law to drop most of EPO ground in 3 years.
It is not advisable for the government to drop EPOs because small scale miners are saying so, these EPOs are very crucial for the country to discover new mineral deposits.
It is not a secret that miners who have claims acquired those claims with geological knowledge that there are areas
that are rich in certain minerals.
As the government, we are also working towards reviewing these EPOs to accommodate small scale miners, for
example (not in all circumstances) allow mining operations of 1 hectare to take place.
We will also ask EPO holders to release some land after exploring it, even after 6 months so that mining can take place if there is any mining to do on the land. We will also raise our taxes for an EPO holder after 1 year if they fail to give us geological results for some of the land under their exploration zone.
We will also raise the taxes if the holder does not release the land under his watch. As the government, we are going to make sure that exploration does take place and at the same time production should not stop. Therefore we have come up with these measures and others to keep our mining sector mobile.
RD Zimbabwe is reportedly losing a lot of revenue through predatory buying of gemstones. What do you think needs to be done to curb predatory buying?
PK Zimbabwe lost quite a sum in gemstone leakages where foreign buyers would come and buy gemstones that might cost over USD2000 for only 20USD. The buyers would ask villagers to go mine gemstones of different types and pay them very little amounts because the villagers lack sufficient knowledge about these gemstones. MMCZ is therefore working on a model that is going to help Zimbabwe secure gemstones that is by liberalizing the mining of these stones and spreading knowledge about the stones.
This article first appeared in the Mining Zimbabwe magazine September 2019 issue