GOVERNMENT is considering allowing small-scale miners to diversify operations by participating in the production of semi-precious stones.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Engineer Polite Kambamura said this during a small-scale miners’ forum held in Bulawayo yesterday.
“Our artisanal small-scale mining sector will soon diversify to include mining of semi-precious stones, manganese and other minerals apart from gold and chrome they have been mining. You agree with me that focus has been made on gold and little attention to other minerals,” he said.
“For example, semi-precious stones, the coloured gemstones found in Karoi, Mashonaland West province, have a potential to earn the country billions of dollars,” said Eng Kambamura.
He said despite vast deposits of semi-precious stones in the country, very little was being exploited.
“Small but high value minerals like lithium, manganese and magnesium are not being exploited at artisanal and small-scale miners’ level yet developed nations are scrambling for control of such resources dubbed the ‘minerals of the future’. We need to urgently develop the sector for the benefit of our country,” he said.
“There have been many investors coming to Zimbabwe after the President (Mnangagwa) declared that the country is ‘open for business’. Our offices are inundated daily with investors from all over the world and that should tell you that there is something unique in the country,” he said.
Eng Kambamura said as part of enhancing gold production Government was administering the Gold Development Fund, which was funded to the tune of $150 million with some small-scale miners having already benefited from the facility.
He, however, said some of the beneficiaries were defaulting in paying back the revolving fund.
The funding has traditionally been used to secure mining equipment for small scale miners through a model called Plant and Equipment Lease-to-Buy Scheme under a three-year tenure.
According to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, in the first two months of the year, the country produced 3,91 tonnes of gold with the bulk of it coming from small-scale miners who delivered 2,53 tonnes.
Zimbabwe targets to produce 100 tonnes of gold by 2023 from 33,3 tonnes produced last year.
The country has an estimated 13 million tonnes of unexploited yellow metal reserves worth about $16 trillion._The Chronicle