- February 23, 2021
- Posted in LOCAL
Letter to the Editor: An increase in mining fees when currency is stable a no brainer
As a small-scale miner, I do find those fees rather exorbitant in the sense that it is a very high and significant increase in USD terms, given that our local currency is now quite stable.
To give an example of just one of the fees which affect small-scale miners, the fee to inspect a 10ha gold block is now $400usd. At the height of dollarisation around 2012 or thereabouts, it used to be $100usd and the highest it went to during the USD era was $200 USD. Now, what is the justification for doubling even that to $400? If our local currency had been depreciating fast as it was prone to do before the stabilization set it, then one would assume that the authorities are building in the anticipated loss of value due to inflation as time goes on, but that is not the case at all with a stable currency as is the case now. Unless whoever pushed for those increases knows something that the generality of the population is not aware of?
The annual inspection fee by the way is the yardstick that most other stakeholders like the rural councils use to set their own annual charges for mining projects within their area, so the effect of these increases is bound to lead to a general increase across the board and many small mining projects will collapse as a result.
This goes against the stated aim of the Mines Ministry itself to fully formalise artisanal and small-scale mining projects. Unless they are not telling us the truth and their real aim is to push out the majority of small-scale miners from the sector to allow their claims to be taken over by the larger players who are already formalized and can afford those exorbitant fees? That’s how a lot of the artisanal and small-scale miners are seeing this move which seems to have been done without consulting the representative body of the artisanal and small-scale miners, given the sharp and swift objection by the ZMF President Ms. Henrietta Rushwaya, immediately these fees were announced as gazetted.
Should the mines ministry insist on keeping these fees increased as they have gazetted them, illegal mining will increase because a lot of small-scale mining projects will stop operating! Jobs will be lost but those gold-rich areas and mines will not stop being mined by those who would have lost their jobs.
So in short, those increases are a bad move and at the wrong time as well during the height of these Covid-19 induced challenges.