Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
A South African company, Gold Genius has struck a milestone deal with the Zimbabwe Miners Federation which will see it injecting about $30 million in the setting-up of gold service centres for use by small-scale miners in various parts of the country.
Gold Genius chairman Mr Pierre Roux said his company which has been supplying mining equipment to the country over the last 10 years first brokered the deal with the Government to design and construct a state-of-the-art gold service centre of excellence but the agreement fell through due to lack of funding.
He said this after the signing of an MoU between his company and Bubi Small-Scale Miners Association (BSSMA), an affiliate of ZMF in Bubi District on Thursday.
“This deal is basically a combination of three years of going through the legalities to meet the requirements of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority. We are putting the first service centre here in Bubi where we are starting construction tomorrow (Friday) and we are going to build a further five which will be in Shangani, Matobo, Filabusi, Fort Rixon and Kwekwe.
“Each service centre will put us in the region of $1 million to put it up. The capital that we need to fund for purchasing machinery to be used there is a further $4 million per service centre. In capital terms that will put us at $30 million for the project. There would be five full time jobs created per service centre which add up to 30 jobs. It won’t be run by experts from South Africa but by locals,” said Mr Roux.
Apart from milling the gold ore brought by small-scale miners the service centres would have a buying office on site as well as provide compressors, explosives among other mining equipment.
ZMF first vice-president Mr Ishmael Kaguru said the gold service centre would play a pivotal role in improving gold production while ensuring that small-scale miners benefit the real value from their ore.
“The importance of this partnership is to groom our miners in the sense that we will be having some technical people who will be teaching them proper mining and safety issues. At the end of the day they are going to benefit from their sands unlike what is happening with other millers. They will be getting about 50 percent, that’s what is unique about it.
“Also most of our miners buy explosives from town. They get into buses and public transport with them, which is dangerous and construction of the service centre will enable them to obtain them (explosives) on site. These centres will also provide equipment such as compressors and pumps. In actual fact all the mining needs will be available there,” said Mr Kaguru.
BSSMA secretary Mr Benjamin Ndlovu said the terms of the deal between the two parties was likely to capacitate artisanal and small-scale miners in Bubi District.
“The mill which will be put up by the new investor has the capacity to recover 80 percent of the gold from the ore compared to the ones that we are relying on at the moment which only recovers 30 percent. Another plus is that we are going to have 50 percent of the gold that will be found in the sands.
“The experts that will be at our disposal will assist to identify the nature of our rifts and how to access our shafts. According to the terms of the deal some individual miners will end up having their own equipment, with the investor handing over the entire infrastructure after recouping his investment and accruing profit after a specific period,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Bubi district environmental officer Mr Sydney Muyambi said the setting up of the service centre was likely to improve economic activity in the mineral rich district.
“I am happy that we have an investor to partner us and may I take this opportunity to ask potential investors led by Gold Genius to assist in efficiency in mining as well as to ensure that miners desist from scarifying the land because we have a number of gold panners that are degrading the land.
“There is also a need to introduce the concept of beneficiation and value addition to ensure that minerals that are mined here are also added value right here. In so doing this will ensure the economic growth of the district because as it is we are not benefitting from the mineral resources, which is in our area,” said Mr Muyambi.
He said Bubi District was endowed with various minerals most of which are still to be exploited.
“Bubi District is endowed with a lot of minerals, on the southern part there are mainly gold deposits which stretch to various parts, there is also limestone while on the eastern part there is copper and on the north-western side there are diamonds deposits in a number of wards. In actual fact diamond deposits might be more than gold but exploration and exploitation hasn’t been done,” said Mr Muyambi.