The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
FIDELITY Printers and Refiners (FPR) has come up with a mining and processing input allocation scheme to cover for the 45 percent local currency retention it offers small-scale miners for delivering gold as it moves to ensure effective mopping up of the yellow metal.
FPR head-gold operations, Mr Mehluleli Dube, confirmed that the country’s sole gold purchaser had introduced a mining and processing input allocation scheme, which would enable small-scale miners to access cyanide and explosives from selected suppliers using vouchers.
FPR is issuing out vouchers inscribed cyanide chemicals scheme or explosives accessories scheme as a replacement of the contentious 45 percent local currency retention, which was met with dismay by small-scale miners.
“I can confirm that we have introduced a mining and processing input allocation scheme. We were dealing with concerns coming up from miners. If your client says they have any issue, you naturally start dealing with that issue to live well with each other. It’s meant to make life easier for them. They were saying they were facing challenges in accessing these things (mining consumables) and we just came up with an intervention to make sure we soften that challenge,” said Mr Dube.
There was an outcry by miners after the lowering of the foreign currency retention threshold from 70 to 55 percent by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Dr John Mangudya in his recent Monetary Policy Statement, leading to the Government engaging the central bank to come up with ways of cushioning the miners.
In a clear indication of protesting small-scale miners only delivered 20 kilogrammes of gold to FPR after the announcement of the Monetary Policy Statement.
However, the mining and processing input allocation scheme has been met with mixed reactions from the miners with some stating that it was development towards supporting players in the small-scale mining sector while others hinted that it only serves as an interim intervention preferring a 100 percent foreign currency cash payout.
Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation chief executive officer, Mr Wellington Takavarasha said the mining and processing input allocation scheme comes as an incentive to miners that sell their gold to FPR.
“Based on my conversation with their officials FPR has introduced an incentive programme in which gold miners who sell their gold to them can use the RTGS portion of their payments to purchase the major chemical and explosives for their mining needs.
“This is good news for our gold miners. This would mean that miners would receive their United States dollar value for their RTGS portion received from Fidelity for selling their gold. I have requested information from FPR so that we can promote this new development as ZMF,” he said.
Former ZMF vice president Mr Ishmael Kaguru reiterated Mr Takavarasha’s sentiments stating that the facility stands to cushion small-scale miners who have been struggling to purchase consumables.
“We welcome the move by FPR to cushion miners by converting the 45 percent retention in local currency into vouchers for the purchase of consumables like cyanide and explosives. The challenge we faced was that the 45 percent wasn’t enough to buy the requisite consumables and as such we felt shortchanged and to make matters worse most suppliers demand payment in forex,” said Mr Kaguru.
He said FPR should also consider coming up with a facility to enable small-scale miners to purchase machinery as well as to facilitate undisrupted fuel supplies.
“We are calling on FPR to consider coming up with such a facility to enable us to procure mining equipment from suppliers and we are also looking forward for the facility to include diesel whereby we have allotted service stations serving miners using these vouchers,” said Mr Kaguru.
Zvishavane-Mberengwa Mining Association chairperson Mr Thembinkosi Sibanda said the move by FPR to come up with a mining and processing input allocation scheme was a noble idea but the gold buying entity should not dictate miners’ needs.
“We welcome the scheme but it’s more of half a loaf is better than no bread scenario. Of course, FPR is showing its concerns and its supportive role to small-scale miners but it shouldn’t decide for mines what to procure because their needs are varied. In essence we need the cash its real value…” he said.