A tour by Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa led Mines and Mining Development Portfolio Committee has revealed a host of challenges that need urgent addressing at the Bubi gold Centre Mining Zimbabwe can reveal.
Yesterday the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development led by Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa went for a fact-finding mission at the popular gold service centre where ZMDC and local Small-scale miners converged to air their concerns and views on the operations at the service centre.
The purpose of the visit is dubbed: Enquiry into the gold mining sector problems.
Speaking at the visit, Bubi Small Scale Miners Association Chairperson Mr Siqduthando Ncube said the project was headed for failure as ZMDC was failing to fund small scale miners to bring gold ore at the milling centre.
He said the pilot project has failed on its mandate to be exemplary for other provinces to take a leaf because the implementation of the whole idea was offside.
“The only way this project can flourish is by empowering small scale miners. The resources are there but we are still using picks and shovels to extract ore. A pilot project should be adequately funded and be exemplary and it seems we have lacked on the implementation of the idea on paper, on the ground.
Bubi Miners Association Secretary Mr Benjamin Ndlovu implored the government to finish the project as it has not been as successful as was anticipated. Government must however draw lessons from that, and improve on the idea as it is still noble.
“We thought we were very lucky to get a milling centre but it has not been as expected. These milling centres do not need too much capital; but this has failed since 2018. The government must fully fund this project so that the investment benefits are fully realised” he said.
The small-scale miners also reported that ten compressors were ordered yet only three were delivered as of now, and time has lapsed, giving speculation of corruption.
Some equipment in a shed is gathering dust as it is sitting idle with miners claiming the equipment is not of good use to them. The miners say the equipment they initially expected to be delivered and that which was delivered are completely different, which might have doomed the project from the beginning.
The Mines Committee arrived on-site before 9 am and departed after 13:00hrs, and at no time during that period did any miner bring in any ore. There also was no electricity and the centre was quiet yet unmistakable noise of mining equipment was heard from neighbouring mines. This led to Mines Committee members asking why the generator was not being used, while depending wholly on electricity which is unstable.
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) Non-Executive Director Mr Peter Chimboza speaking at the visit yesterday said, his company which owns 60 per cent of Bubi Gold Milling Centre was failing to raise capital to increase its milling volumes as as such, there has not been enough apex to channel to the growth of the ASM sector in Bubi.
He said that because his company was under sanctions, it has been difficult for them to source for outside investment as investors are not willing to be associated or to risk their money in a project that can be blacklisted due to ZMDC sanctions.
Chimboza said it was of importance for the government to take a leaf from the Bubi Centre as it has proved that the project is achievable but there are things that needed to be addressed.
“We are not able to raise funds because of sanctions. The main thing that we want is to grow our milling volumes because the ore is there in this area but the equipment is not enough for small scale miners to bring big tonnes.
“We are hoping through the help of the government to fund the miners, if miners are capacitated we will have big volumes to mill here.
“This is however a pilot project, we hope after this we will have successful gold service centres,” Chimboza said.
Parliamentary Portfolio Chairperson on Mines and Mining Development Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa asked the Bubi Gold Milling Centre to write a proposal on what was needed to finish the project so that it may be presented in parliament.
The milling centre according to Chimbodza has provided a learning curve for the other gold service centres to be established. He said that financial support for the milling centre can be of huge significance to the US$12 billion mining roadmap.
Speaking to Mining Zimbabwe after the meeting, Mines and Mining development Portfolio Committee Chairman Hon Edmond Mkaratigwa said, “We have been informed that a CPA plant which will be able to handle more than a 100 tonnes per day is envisaged but it needs a budget of more than USD400 000 which we support.”
“We also hope that the gaps that are existing in terms of the operations around the facility are going to be addressed and that will see stakeholders who are the Artisanal and Small-scale miners responsible for the feedstock being properly funded and properly capacitated in terms of equipment and machinery to rump up their production. That will also see the replacement of the crushers on site to make sure we have morden crushers that can actually be able to process more material and rump up production which will feed into the dump and ultimately feed into the CPA plant. This will go a long way in ensuring that we meet the 4 Billion dollar target that we expect from the gold sector torwards the 12 billion dollar mining industry by 2023,” Mkaratigwa concluded.
Gold service centres are a priority for the achievement of the President Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa for the country to achieve an upper-middle-income economy by 2030 with the National Development Strategy-1 (NDS-1) emphasising on the state-run gold milling centres to help capacitate small scale and artisanal miners as well as increasing gold recovery methods among these micro miners.
The Bubi Gold Milling Centre on paper is a project that is necessary for the growth and development of the small scale and artisanal gold miners whose vision through their representative body Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) is to see the ASM sector moving to an international standard of junior mining and achieving a US$4 billion annual revenue by 2023.