- July 9, 2019
- Posted in LOCAL
Government has set annual targets for high-level minerals as it moves to maximise production in the mining sector.
The gold sector is expected to produce 40 tonnes per year, diamond sector 10 million carats and 50 tonnes of refined platinum as the drive towards a mining contribution of US$12 billion by 2023 gathers momentum.
Further, Government wants all holders of claims to use them for the nation’s benefit or risk losing them.
This was said by Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Polite Kambamura during the launch of the Environmental Management Plan for Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners in Patchway, Kadoma, last week.
He said to achieve the US$12 billion contribution by the mining sector, Government would review its policies, legislation and regulations governing the sector.
Besides establishing gold centres, Government would replace aged maps indicating where the country’s minerals are located through the cadastre system, guarantee bank loans for small-scale miners and financing gold buyers to curtail leakages.
“As the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, we sat down and agreed that the industry should contribute at least US$12 billion by the year 2023.
“In this endeavour, we identified each mineral that could contribute to the attainment of that goal, for example, producing 10 million carats of diamonds, 50 tonnes of refined platinum and 40 tonnes of gold,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
Already, the country is on course to achieving the 40 tonnes target for gold after producing 33,3 tonnes last year driven by artisanal miners who outperformed large-scale producers.
However, there has been a marked decline in gold production this year with 1,77 tonnes produced in January, February (2,1 tonnes), March (2,6 tonnes) and April (2,1 tonnes).
The output represents a decline from an average of 2,5 tonnes per month last year.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said Government remained optimistic that output could rise if artisanal miners are capacitated.
He explained that the laws governing the mining industry were promulgated during the colonial era, and were designed to restrict mining activities particularly by small-scale players.
The Mines and Minerals Act, for instance, was first promulgated in 1961 and criminalises the possession of gold by artisanal miners, yet they have become the biggest contributors to gold deliveries in the country.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said the amendment to the Mines Act would be tabled in Parliament for deliberations so that it recognises small-scale and artisanal miners.
“If the small-scale and artisanal miners are recognised, they can approach banking institutions for loans to buy equipment for their activities,” he said.
The gold centres that Government has started establishing, will provide milling services for small-scale miners while officials from Fidelity Printers and Refineries would be available to pay for the gold.
Government also wants the gold centres to offer technical training and services to miners.
Said Deputy Minister Kambamura: “The gold centres would be a bit different because miners would receive equipment such as jack hammers, pumps and explosives because some suppliers are demanding the banned US dollars for these but miners will get them at affordable prices.
“Geologists would also be available to validate the amount of minerals from the ore. The ore would also be further refined for minerals that could be left during the initial processing.”
The programme has already been launched in Bubi (Matabeleland North) with the second phase expected in Mt Darwin (Mashonaland Centre) then Silobela (Midlands) and Penhalonga (Manicaland).
Deputy Minister Kambamura said Government was aware of challenges being faced by miners including disputes over claims and officials would be deployed across the country to resolve the problems.
“The disputes are also being caused by aged maps some of which are torn and as Government we are going to computerise using the cadastral system on the various claims and their owners for easy management,” he said.
Government is also engaging large mining companies over exclusive prospecting orders where some claims are held for speculative purposes.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando is expected to use Section 400 of the Mines and Minerals Act to discuss the utilisation of idle claims.
“We are doing this to expedite the exploitation of our minerals as some claims were pegged in the 1930s and without production, these should be retained by Government,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura said.
He urged large-scale miners to share their tributaries with small-scale miners who cannot mine deeper because of financial constraints so that the claims are productive.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said Government was also mobilising financial resources to buy gold directly from the miners.
“Fidelity Printers would only allow approved buyers who had targets, for example, to submit 10kgs of gold per month, but we have realised that if we have 50 buyers with a 100g target per week, more gold would be sold to Government,” he said.
Government is in the process of selecting the buyers to increase volumes of gold deposits_The Herald