Small scale miners could lean on big scale miners

Henrietta Rushwaya

THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) says cooperation between large and small-scale miners will go a long way in boosting output and the mining industry’s overall contribution to the economy.

The mining industry is one of the major economic centerpieces expected to drive the country towards an upper middle income economy status by 2030.

It is against this background that the Government envisions a US$12 billion mining industry by next year buoyed by minerals such as gold, platinum, diamond, chrome ferrochrome, chrome and lithium.

Last year, the mining industry earned the country US$5,2 billion up from US$2,7 billion in 2017 and the figure this year is projected to reach US$8 billion.

Addressing delegates at the just ended Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) annual conference in Victoria Falls, ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya whose organisation represents the interest of artisanal and small-scale miners said: “In many parts of the world, artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM), and large scale miners (LSM) operate in neighbouring concessions and sometimes on the same.

“ASM activities are increasingly in contact with LSM operations, making the probability for conflict— as well as the potential opportunity for cooperation between the two—greater than ever before.”

Responding to questions from this paper following her presentation at the CoMZ conference, Ms Rushwaya said their relationship with LSM was cordial, adding that ASM have a lot to learn from the primary producer.

“Cooperation between the two entities will go a long way in ensuring that the sector increases from the current 3,4 percent growth and will also go beyond the US$5,2 billion mineral exports which make 83 percent of the country’s total national exports.

“We have a lot to learn from the LSM especially when it comes to corporate governance, skills transfer, health and safety just to mention a few,” she said.

“We need to enter into tribute agreements with tittle holders in order to mine at their designated claims; we also need to tap into their experience and expertise when it comes to health and safety and this is only achieved through identification and minimisation of hazards that include environmental and equipment based factors.”

Of late, some miners affiliated to ZMF lost their lives following an accident at a mine in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province.

“Recently, we had an accident which claimed seven lives at Rany mine and the Duration Gold Mine (Vumbachikwe) highly skilled Proto Team risked their lives by going down 240 metres to recover the bodies.

“Such efforts are applaudable and show a sense of unity of purpose. As part of formalization the LSM will also train our ASM members on various mining aspects as part of skills transfer.

At the CoMZ conference, the ZMF president highlighted that the major challenges hindering sustainable mining activities by artisanal and small-scale miners include lack of financial and technical resources.

She said ASM find it difficult to meet the criteria for loan facility or overdrafts adding that players in the sector were also constrained by lack of formalisation.

And this limited ASM potential to effectively participate in the mainstream economy. Other setbacks are to do with lack of geological information, marketing barriers, unskilled labour force and the use of rudimentary tools.

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As part of ZMF’s strategy to uplift artisanal and small-scale miners, Ms Rushwaya said her federation was going ahead with strategic partnerships with local and foreign investors as well as creating a Special Purpose Vehicle to run with ASM projects.

In April this year, ZMF, which is a non-profit-making organisation, announced the establishment of an independent company, FS Mining (Pvt) Ltd, to run and manage its projects.

FS Mining, which is a Special Purpose Vehicle, will be running and managing ZMF projects particularly in relation to issues to do with investment protection and funding programmes for small-scale miners.

The small-scale mining industry has been recognized by the Government as a critical sector that was contributing significantly to the development of the economy.

Last year, Zimbabwe’s total gold deliveries reached 29,6 tonnes from which over 18 tonnes was the contribution by players in the small-scale mining industry.

 

Business Weekly

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