By Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Government is working on a framework that will see all big mining companies in the country returning to full production to enhance their contribution to the fiscus and employment creation, President Mnangagwa has said.
The President made the remarks in a stakeholders meeting he held with commercial farmers and small scale miners under the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) in Chinhoyi on Tuesday.
President Mnangagwa noted that the small scale sector that last year accounted for 53 percent of the country’s 24, 8 tonnes gold deliveries, remains very important and Government will continue supporting the sector but it was time conglomerates put their mining assets to full production.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, the President said was already seized with the matter, which has so far seen the reopening of Eureka Gold Mine in Guruve as well as a flurry of investment into the sector.
The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s (ZMDC) Jena Gold Mine in the Midlands Province and Evington Gold Mine near Chegutu, are also set for re-opening as ZMDC is currently sifting through papers of 151 investors that have shown interest in the mines.
“I think it (production ratio between small scale miners and conglomerates) is now something like 55/45 (percent) in terms of gold production, the small scale miners are now producing far much more,” said President Mnangagwa.
“But of course there is also concerted effort by the Minister of Mines to have the bigger mining houses to do more mining, and this is coming around.
“For now, the small scale miners are doing better, but I believe that as we go on because as you realise we are now opening some of the mines which were not functioning like Eureka Mine, Shabanie-Mashaba Mine, Sabi Mine and so on.
“All these are going to come back on to stream but again there is no money from Government. This is from investment which is coming into the country, so I believe down the line again the big mines are going to take lead.
“But I am not so sure who among yourselves or the big miners who cause gold leakage to South Africa?” he queried.
Efforts to grow the big mines’ output will, however, not lead to Government negating the need to capacitate and continue to grow the small scale mining sector.
To that end, the President said he had on his visit to China managed to resuscitate the $100 million investment deal which the Asians had previously committed to Zimbabwe but was stifled in the previous Government.
Under the scheme, Chinese mining equipment manufacturer XCMG Group, will avail mining equipment for use by artisanal miners in order to build capacity as most of them continue to rely on rudimentary mining methods.
“This scheme will unfold immediately after the elections and already I think the programme is being worked out so that province by province it would be done.
“But I think on Sunday, the Vice President (Constantino Chiwenga) is going to launch the Gold Centre (in Bubi) where geologists and everybody who is a stakeholder in mining is found at the gold centre so that our people can learn and begin to have units of small scale miners doing proper mining properly,” he said.
Speaking at the same meeting, ZMF president Ms Henrietta Rushwaya, thanked the President for all Government led initiatives, which she said were contributing to the strong performance of the sector. With the gold centre now set for opening, Ms Rushwaya said this is one of the major strides by Government to minimise gold leakages but she also appealed that they quickly be rolled out throughout the country to maximise benefits.