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GOVERNMENT has called on small-scale miners to diversify their commodity portfolios and strive for international competitiveness in their operations.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Historically, artisanal and small-scale producers are mostly concentrated in gold, where they work small claims, and chrome, where they are mostly tributaries of large players.
Since 2015, small-scale gold producers have accounted for a bigger proportion of Zimbabwe’s annual gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the country’s sole gold buyer.
In his keynote address at the Minex Exhibition and Conference held in Kwekwe last week, Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa said the small-scale mining sector had the potential to play a bigger role in other mineral commodity sectors.
“…contribution of small-scale mining to our economy cannot be overemphasised. Production of the small-scale miners, especially gold, has been rising significantly since 2014, increasing from 3,727kg to a whopping 13 176kg in 2017. Definitely with such performance, small scale miners cannot be ignored,” Munodawafa said.
“Zimbabwe’s small-scale mining sector is concentrated in gold, chrome and semi-precious stones, and this calls for more diversification in order to increase the number of mineral commodities that this sector can benefit from,” he said.
Over 60 minerals and metals are known to exist in Zimbabwe, 40% of which have been mined commercially. By value, the country’s leading minerals and metals include gold, platinum group metals, chrome, diamond and coal.
Munodawafa said gold was Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earner, contributing $977 million in 2017 which translates to 39% of total merchandise exports. This implies that of the $977 million earned by the gold sector, the small-scale miners contributed more than 50%.
“The gold sub-sector has great potential considering the amount of gold which is unaccounted for and goes to the illegal market. If all players in the sub-sector became responsible and patriotic citizens and delivered all their gold to Fidelity Printers and Refineries, I can assure you that this country would not remain the same,” he said.
“The government of Zimbabwe is committed to ensuring growth of the small-scale mining sector through timely interventions, because this is a source of livelihood for many as well as downstream industries.”
Munodawafa urged small-scale miners to grow from small and medium to large scale through various strategic interventions.
“Do not remain small. Aim higher and strive to be competitive on the international arena,” he said.