By Livingstone Marufu
Small scale miners got a reprieve after Government temporarily shelved mining fees levied on them as part of efforts to formalise the sector and increase production.
President Mnangagwa announced this development during the Zanu PF Youth League Convention in Gweru recently.
This comes after an outcry from the artisanal miners over exorbitant mining fees that have hampered their operations.
Previously an ordinary gold prospecting licence for 10 hectares was increased to $500 from $100 while registration fees for mining claims on the same piece of land cost about $2000.
President Mnangagwa told a gathering in Mkoba that the reduction of mining fees on youths, who constitutes the majority of small scale miners sector, will help to grow the industry.
“We know there are mining fees in the small scale mining sector. Artisanal miners asked mining fees to be shelved so that they will pay later. You are all Zimbabweans, therefore we are exempting these fees for now . . . Miners should be honest and hardworking to boost the production in the sector. We as the Government should create conducive environment to enable people to invest and that is what we are going to do and that’s what we are doing,” said President Mnangagwa.
Government has revived efforts to acquire $100 million worth of equipment from Chinese mining equipment manufacturer XCMG Group for use by artisanal miners.
The equipment is aimed at building capacity of small-scale gold miners to increase gold output from the sector, which contributed 53 percent of the total output last year. About $5 million worth of equipment from the facility arranged by XCMG with China Development Bank, was handed over to some of the miners in April 2017. President Mnangagwa said the capacitation of artisanal miners will help in changing their livelihoods and increasing productivity in the gold sector.
He said: “We want more youths to participate in the mining sector. When we went to China in April, we met with the Chinese President Xi Ping where he revived the $100 million facility for small scale miners.”
Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha said: “I am glad that Government has realised the potential of the artisanal miners, hence accessing $100 million worth of mining equipment is a game changer, not only for small-scale mining, but the whole mining sector.
“The facility will enhance capacity building for small-scale miners who for a long time felt isolated from the mining proceeds from the fiscus.
“This fund will help to establish majority of our miners into full-fledged mining companies, which can contribute further to national output.”
Artisanal miners are targeting a 53 percent jump in gold production by small-scale miners to 20 tonnes as the small scale miners are fast becoming major primary gold producers ahead of large mining corporates. Artisanal miners produced 13 tonnes of gold in 2017, which was ahead of the large corporations’ total output and accounted for 53 percent of the total gold delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR).
Zimbabwe targets 30 tonnes of gold this year.