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Reserve small-scale mining for locals

Reserve small-scale mining for locals

Henrietta Rushwaya

The Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) has implored the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to reserve small scale-mining for locals to ensure that they are not eclipsed by foreign-owned conglomerates.

Currently, small-scale gold miners deliver the bulk of the metal more than half of the total production compared to large-scale companies.

Some experts say the geology of the country makes some deposits best suited for small-scale mining.

Capital requirements for the ventures are often relatively low.

ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya told The Sunday Mail that they continue to lobby for small-scale mining to be solely reserved for locals.

“We have been making submissions to the responsible ministry that small-scale mining must be a preserve for indigenous Zimbabweans and we still stand by that notion as ZMF,” said Ms Rushwaya.

“If that was embraced, then we will not be in this predicament of disturbances that are affecting production. Even things like smuggling in the case of gold usually become rampant when you factor in foreign participants.

“We hope the ministry will consider our plight and enforce this because even local reinvestment is more likely where you have mining proceeds in the pockets of locals,” she said.

Participation by foreign companies in mining, the ZMF reckons, should be ideally directed to capital-intensive conglomerate mining.

“Government policy in the New Dispensation is very clear: the country is open for business, but I think we can benefit more if our foreign partners are directed to capital-intensive projects,” she said.

“There are a number of mineral-rich deposits that are lying idle because there is no local capital to finance them, so as a federation, we think our foreign colleagues should help us in such areas.”

Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development were not fruitful.

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Mr Trinos Chisvo, a small-scale miner in Chinhoyi, said there was a need for Government to come up with revolving financial packages to empower locals and close the gap being capitalised by some companies.

“Our colleagues from other countries have strong financial backing and they can easily crowd us out given that they have access to critical equipment. We are saying the Government should just set minimum thresholds that ensure we are not beaten to the game by our colleagues from other countries. I can assure you someone with compressors, pumps and, above all, at least US$30 000 will beat many small-scale miners.”

Zimbabwe is among the few countries in Southern Africa and probably in the entire continent that offers a favourable investment environment for both locals and foreigners. It has reasonable sound mining policies, readily available raw materials, a pool of skilled and unskilled manpower, a market for finished products, a viable and robust financial services sector and working national infrastructure.

The ease of doing business reforms and the progressive simplification of business processes, which have been led by the President Mnangagwa-led administration, have naturally attracted investors in the mining sector from across the globe.

However, owing to social and cultural differences between the mining company and communities, clashes are sometimes unavoidable.


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