BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), has to date disbursed $120 million out of the $150 million Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF) for small-scale miners.
Giving his presentation at the small-scale miners conference held in Bulawayo yesterday, FPR head of GIDF Matthew Chidavaenzi said plans were afoot to add another $100 million for 2019.
“We have got about $150 million from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and of that $150 million, we have given out $120 million. We still have $30 million to use,” he said.
“But, I’m happy to tell you that we have managed to get another tranche that will be used by the small-scale miners for 2019. So in essence we have got $120 million. We might have another $100 million again to support the gold miners in Zimbabwe,” Chidavaenzi said.
Chidavaenzi said they have also looked beyond Zimbabwe for offshore lines of credit.
He, however, could not disclose how much they were looking for.
“In other words, we have looked for foreign currency, to say miners most of your equipment is denominated in United States dollars. So as I speak to you, we want to finalise a package that will be denominated in United States dollars that will be given to small-scale miners,” he said.
He urged miners to pay back the loans.
The GDIF facility was launched by the RBZ in 2016 as part of initiatives to capacitate small-scale miners and boost gold production. This has seen small-scale miners break production records and deliver more gold than large-scale mining houses.
At its inception, the facility was funded to the tune of $20 million but the central bank has kept on increasing the fund due to its high uptake by the miners.
Speaking at the same event, Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Polite Kambamura said artisanal miners should diversify production from gold to chrome, semi-precious stones, feldspar, manganese and many other minerals.
“You will agree with me that focus has been mainly on gold and little attention to other minerals. It is high time we discuss the potential which lies in these minerals for example, semi-precious stones or coloured gemstones which have an estimated yearly retail value of $18-20 billion and we have these stones in Karoi,” he said.
“Then we ask ourselves, how much have we benefitted as a country from this multi-billion-dollar sector from the resources that we have? You will realise it’s a pittance if any. We need to urgently develop the sectors for the benefit of our country,” Kambamura said.
He said in the small-scale mining sector there was a lot of potential which could turn around the fortunes of the economy and the general population and the government remained committed to supporting the small-scale mining sector towards the vision of a US$12 billion mining sector by 2030.