The Sunday News
Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Young Miners Foundation (YMF) is encouraging young miners to venture into gemstones mining stating that the semi-precious minerals are part of the country’s major economic game changer.
In an interview, YMF chief executive officer Mr Payne Kupfuwa said most young miners prefer mining gold than gemstones.
“We are encouraging young miners to also diversify and try exploring gemstones mining. The challenge is that there is a need for proper knowledge transfer so that young miners can understand how they can mine gemstones and also be able to market them.
“Most young small-scale and artisanal miners prefer gold mining because they believe that it is where most of the money is. But if they also venture into gemstones mining, they can be able to divert the minerals for jewellery manufacturing and decorative purposes,” said Mr Kupfuwa.
He added that younger miners who venture into gemstones mining need assistance.
“They need to know where are they going to sell the gemstones and how are they going to sell them. Unlike gold which they know they have to go and sell to Fidelity Printers (and Refiners) with gemstones most of them are not aware of what to do or which agent to go to.
“It also goes down to investment and capitalisation who is going to assist and help the young miners financially. Venturing into other rare minerals needs proper skills training,” he said.
Mr Kupfuwa also said that of the few young miners who are into gemstones mining their activities were derailed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Operations were derailed because of the movement restrictions. Acquiring consumables which have to be imported from other countries was a challenge as borders were closed. Younger miners need to boost production and they need assistance from the suppliers of equipment and other consumables,” he said.
Zimbabwe is home to large deposits of semi-precious minerals such as agate, amethyst, alexandrite, aquamarine, heliodor iolite and tourmaline, among others, with an estimated value of US$20 billion.
The semi-precious minerals are largely used for jewellery manufacturing and decorative purposes. Such gemstones are found in areas like Gutu, Mutoko, Zvishavane, Mutare and Mt Darwin, Rusape, Odzi, Hurungwe and Karoi.
However, the minerals are largely under-explored and remain a target for smuggling by international cartels of dealers.
To curb smuggling The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) came up with the Statutory Instrument (SI) 256 of 2019 which said that gemstones sub-agents were appointed by MMCZ in terms of SI 265 of 2019 and the Special Grants were defined in SI.