Africa Moyo recently in ZVISHAVANE
SMALL-SCALE miners in the Zvishavane, Mberengwa and some parts of Matabeleland are living in fear of losing their mines to alleged powerful individuals, who are believed to be working in cahoots with some unscrupulous officials in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
Miners who own gold mines are the hardest hit by the development.
Chrome miners have not been spared the onslaught, although on a small-scale given the centrality and value of the mineral.
Zvishavane-Mberengwa Miners Association (ZMMA) chairperson Thembinkosi Sibanda told The Herald Business last week that the situation was so bad that members were now refusing to share their production statistics since the start of the year.
Mr Sibanda said some small-scale miners lost their mines after producing huge quantities of gold.
“This year, we haven’t gathered production statistics because our members fear losing their mines. However, the figures are not looking good although we are definitely producing, with some miners producing just about 5kgs per month,” said Mr Sibanda.
“However, like I said, getting exact statistics is difficult because there is a lady from Gwanda, Matabeleland South, one of our highest producers, who lost her mine to some people from Harare.
“So, others fear that they would be removed from their mines if they give us good production figures. In the business of minerals, every Jack and Gill wants to come in and the powerful come and kick you out of your mine. Initially they peg next to you and eventually you are removed.”
ZMMA members contributed a haul of 52kgs in 2016 and 61kgs last year, making them significant players in gold mining sector. Small-scale miners have become key players in gold mining and deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), contributing 55 percent to the 24,8 tonnes achieved last year.
In the first seven months of this year, small-scale miners again outpaced large-scale miners after delivering 13,7 tonnes to the 20,8 tonnes achieved.
Mr Sibanda said they could increase output if funds being disbursed by FPR under the Gold Development Initiative Fund were accessed by many miners.
So far, some miners cannot access the funds due to lack of collateral required by FPR in the form of cattle and other assets.
Some of the miners do not have the assets and can therefore not get the loans to mechanise their operations.
ZMMA has 204 members, most of whom mine gold while a few are into chrome.
The association is arguably one of the most well-up associations in the country, probably competing with the Bubi Small Scale Miners Association (BSSMA) is thought to be another small miners association that is professionally run.
ZMMA got a donation of a pick-up truck and 11 compressors in November 2015 from Mimosa Mine.
Mr Sibanda said the donation has helped the miners to increase their average output, resulting in them buying three more compressors using own resources.