The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo in Zvishavane, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s sole gold buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) will soon issue out formalisation cards to artisanal miners to enable them to deliver gold at its centres as it moves to ensure effective mopping of the yellow metal.
In an interview with Sunday News Business on the sidelines of a Gold Mining Conference in Zvishavane last Thursday, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF) mining investment fund advisor Mr William Gambiza said the central bank’s subsidiary, FPR would soon introduce a formalisation card as a way of ensuring artisanal miners sell their gold through formal channels.
“We have engaged ZMF (Zimbabwe Miners Federation) and managed to come up with some form of formalisation cards whereby we are trying to mop every gramme that each and every miner produces. It’s part of the gold mobilisation initiative we are working on. Someone can produce as little as five grammes so by having such a formal card we are saying you can go and sell your gold to Fidelity Printers whether you are an artisanal miner or small-scale miner. It’s part of the gold mobilisation strategy, it’s something which we are about to refine but that’s the plan that we need to roll out,” he said.
ZMF chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha concurred with Mr Gambiza’s sentiments further stating that the initiative would also serve as a registration exercise of the country’s artisanal miners.
“We are going to go to all the hot spots in the country where there are artisanal mining activities. FPR will issue an ID (identification) card, which will have all its features on it. That card will assist artisanal miners to sell gold to either Fidelity agents or Fidelity itself. The idea is to eliminate the middlemen,” he said.
Mr Takavarasha also said the issuance of the cards would go a long way in improving gold deliveries at FPR as well as formalising artisanal miners’ activities. As part of monitoring the effectiveness of its fund, FPR has placed mining consultants in all the country’s mining regions.
“Our investment towards small-scale and artisanal miners is that we don’t only end at deal origination and financing. In each region we have made it a point that whatever portfolio we have created we plant regional consultants who are there to help our miners to apply for loans and ensure that best practice is in place and also monitor the utilisation of the fund and make sure they repay because it’s a revolving fund. We even want to employ more personnel in the area of monitoring and evaluation,” said Mr Gambiza.
The GDIF was created by the central bank two years ago as part of its initiatives to enhance economic productivity through promotion and development of the gold mining industry in Zimbabwe. The loan facility is primarily for the acquisition of gold mining plant and equipment in order to enhance gold production by miners. Mr Gambiza said the fund has played a significant role in enhancing small-scale miners’ production.
“At the moment if you look at the deliveries for July, the small-scale miners are still on the leading side because they contribute close to 60 percent of the total contribution. So as far as we are concerned it’s a sector, which we cannot ignore or just look at. We need to support it,” said Mr Gambiza.
In June 1.5 tonnes of gold were delivered to FPR compared to the 3,68 tonnes recorded at the same period last year. However, an increase was recorded in July as 2,78 tonnes were delivered.
FPR general manager Mr Fradreck Kunaka attributed the decrease in deliveries largely due to the prevailing power outages in the country.
“The decline can be attributed to the acute power outages that were experienced across the country, more so in the mining sector that relies heavily on power for its operations. There were also fuel shortages that affected the miners to operate at their fullest potential.
“However, as a result of the measures being put in place by the Government to address power challenges, looking ahead gold deliveries are expected to increase in the last months of the year. If the upward trend continues, we will be able to meet the 40 tonnes target for the year,” he said.