Ishemunyoro Chingwere Business Reporter
Small-scale miners will no longer need to pay high environmental consultation fees and go through a lengthy process to obtain Environmental Impact Assessment licences after the Environmental Management Agency and the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation reached an agreement to simplify the exercise.
The move is part of Government’s efforts to formalise small-scale mining whose contribution in the country’s overall mineral haul has been on the up and has shown potential to grow even further.
The new development will see the miners only having to fill in blank spaces in a simplified document as opposed to the previous dispensation where miners had to submit a comprehensive environment management plan ,which then saw them engaging consultants who were charging $5 000. A dummy of the new application form sent to ZMF by EMA, a copy of which this publication has, shows that the number of days for the application process to obtain the EIA licence will also be reduced from the current 60 days to “a couple” of days after application or can issued upon submission of application.
“In order to improve compliance, it is proposed that small-scale miners should be exempted from carrying out full EIAs,” said EMA in statement.
“The agency should develop operational guidelines for small-scale mines. These guidelines will reduce the cost of engaging EIA consultancies for undertaking EIA reports. It is also expected that the guidelines should be simplified to enable easy understanding by the small scale miners,” said EMA.
The new guidelines have been welcomed by the miners. The doing away with consultants and cutting on the number of days for application were the most welcome change for the miners.
“This is a welcome relief to us,” said ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya.
“All along we were paying plus or minus $5 000 in consultancy fees for the processing of the EIAs. Even though, most of our membership were complaining that they were unable to understand the previous voluminous document. We are also pleased with new simplified checklist like format the application is now in and that the new set up will see miners getting their EIA almost immediately after application as opposed to 60 days it was taking us previously,” she said.
Ms Rushwaya said the new set up will go a long way in the efforts to formalise small scale mining operations and is also evidence that Government under President Mnangagwa is listening to the sector’s needs. She said her federation met with President Mnangagwa in Chinhoyi in July where it made a presentation on the need to look into the processes surrounding the process of obtaining the EIA licence. The federation also made a plea to Government to consider chrome miners’ US Dollar retention from the current 35 percent to 70 percent as is the case in the gold sector. Government has noted the importance of the small-scale mining sector due to the country’s geology which make some mineral deposits more amenable to small-scale operations as opposed to the technologies employed by large conglomerates.