The Sunday News
Sukoluhle Ndlovu and Crispen Gumunyu, Midlands Correspondent
SMALL-scale miners could be pushing gold into the informal market where middlemen are buying the yellow metal in foreign currency.
Although Fidelity Printers and Refiners is the sole gold buyer and marketer in the country, it offers payments at 55 percent in US dollars while 45 percent is paid in local currency at interbank rate. Due to fluctuating exchange rates and increase in prices of mining consumables, it has emerged that a number of small-scale miners are now side-marketing the mineral.
Zimbabwe Mining Federation National Council chairman Mr Makumba Nyenje confirmed that a number of small-scale and artisanal miners were now opting for the black market, in the process prejudicing the country of the much needed foreign currency.
“There is a lot of gold leakages in the small-scale mining sector. A lot of gold is being side marketed by small-scale miners. A greater part of the percentage of what is being produced is finding its way into the informal market. There must be modalities put in place so that gold is tapped into the formal market,” he said.
Mr Nyenje said small-scale miners were targeting to produce at least 60 tonnes of gold by year 2023.
“The sector is producing more than 60 percent of the gold in Zimbabwe. But we want to surpass that by producing 60 tonnes of gold and eventually reach the 100 tonne mark. This can only be possible if the issue of side-marketing is permanently dealt with,” he said.
Some miners said the Government needs to review gold payment terms to attract miners to sell their gold through the formal channels. Since the Government announced new payment terms, gold deliveries to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe declined to 12,3 tonnes from January to June this year compared to 17,3 tonnes during the same period last year.
Meanwhile, Young Miners Foundation (YMF) has urged the Government to support young miners as this is crucial in efforts to ensure that the mining sector reaches the targeted US$12 billion by 2023. YMF held a seminar in Bulawayo last week under the theme: “Young miners for innovation and technology to optimise and accelerate the USD12 billion mining economy by 2023”.
Speaking at the seminar, YMF chief executive officer, Mr Payne Kupfuwa said the inclusion of young miners in key decision making meetings will facilitate the sharing of innovative ideas.
“Government should involve young miners when they make decisions because the youth have innovative ideas, which can be of good use in our mining industry to achieve the goal of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. We do not need money to achieve the 2023 mining industry goal but we need short term strategies because in our economy things change on a daily basis,” he said.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation public relations manager Mr Dosman Mangisi encouraged young miners to venture into gemstones mining and value addition since the country is rich in minerals.
“Zimbabwe has 33 gemstones with seven of those being strategic gemstones and they can be expensive once they are value added. These are opportunities that young miners and the youth in general can take up in order for us to achieve the goal of US$12 billion by 2023,” he said.
How Mine Metallon Gold mine operations manager Mr Elton Gwatidzo also encouraged young miners to apply new technologies in exploring abandoned mining sites for small-scale operations.
“A few areas have been exploited to exhaustion in terms of minerals so there is massive potential in areas that have been worked on before so we can use exploration techniques such as geo chemistry, aero magnetics which are expensive but the good thing is that we have knowledge that the minerals are there. Explorations have already been done for most of the minerals such as gold, gem stones and chrome that we can exploit from a small-scale point of view,” he said.