Bianca Mlilo, Business Reporter
FIDELITY Printers and Refiners (FPR) has to date disbursed $9 million of the $20 million loan facility to capacitate operations of small scale miners.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) unveiled the $20 million package late last year as part of measures to boost gold production through capacitating small-scale and artisanal mining operations.
The fund is accessible through FPR, a unit of RBZ, which is the sole buyer of gold in Zimbabwe.
“We have disbursed $9,4 million under the $20 million loan facility. Most beneficiaries requested the loan to buy machinery whose installation has been hampered by the incessant rains,” said Mr Bhekilizwe Manyathela, an official at FPR.
He also told Business Chronicle on the sidelines of the miners’ stakeholders meeting in Bulawayo yesterday that the five percent bond notes export incentive had resulted in more gold being delivered to Fidelity.
The Government has prioritised small-scale gold mining operations taking into account the critical role the miners played in the yellow metal’s production.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has also secured a $100 million loan facility from South Korea, meant to capacitate small scale miners too.
However, stringent conditions of accessing loans under the facility have been cited as making it virtually impossible for small-scale miners to benefit.
Small scale miners are in dire need of basic mining equipment such as jack hammers, compressors and water pumps.
Those who attended the meeting also queried the terms and conditions for the loan, which they felt were stringent. Some felt the proposals for the loan were too technical and they could not even understand the wording.
The gold production target for small scale miners this year has been set at 10 tonnes after the they missed their 2016 target by only 600kg, producing 9,4kg in 2016.
This year’s combined target for both big and small scale miners has been pegged at 28 tonnes. RBZ estimates Zimbabwe’s underground gold reserves at about 13 million tonnes which remain under-exploited. Dr Mangudya is on record saying only 586 tonnes had been officially mined from 1980 to August 2016.
The meeting was attended by miners from Matabeleland North and South, officials from the Ministry of Mines, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, CID Minerals and Border Unit, mining equipment suppliers and FPR.