By Walter Nyamukondiwa
A Chegutu-based youth mining cooperative directly supporting about 6 000 people has entered into partnership with a local engineering company to mechanise their operations.
This is set to galvanise the contribution of artisanal gold miners to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s gold buying arm, after indications that small-scale artisanal miners are now major producers of gold.
The equipment will see the establishment of a gold mill to ensure that the cooperative recovers nearly 100 percent of the gold from the ore against the current 40 percent.
All the remaining 60 percent is currently retained by private gold millers.
Danangwe District Youths in Mining Cooperative (DDYMC) is set to take delivery of mining equipment worth about $200 000 to lay the foundation for value addition.
DDYMC chairman Mr Stewart Luckford confirmed the latest developments during a tour of the mine by Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Cde Faber Chidarikire and members of the provincial joint operations command.
“We now want to do our own milling of gold because our records at Fidelity (Printers and Refiners) speak for themselves,” he said.
“We want to enter into beneficiation and value addition in line with the President’s call and fulfil Zim-Asset aspirations of creating employment.”
The cooperative has since 2014 delivered 256kg of gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners realising an estimated $10 million using rudimentary means with the development set to double production.
Yagden Engineering managing director Mr Wayne Williams said the equipment which includes concentrators, Bambazonke bow mills, generators, hammer mills and jaw crushers among others should be on site by end of March.
“Small-scale artisanal miners are the future of mining in the country with the right kind of support,” he said.
Cde Chidarikire said operations at the mine should be regularised after it emerged that they are having difficulties agreeing with claim holders Bleakridge, formerly ACR.
This has put the cooperative on a collision course with the Environmental Management Agency who want an environment impact assessment conducted at the mine.
EMA provincial manager Mrs Eunice Mutepfa said unregulated mining operations can be disastrous to surrounding communities.
“We are saying they should be properly registered, which means they need a permit or licence so that they can do an EIA which ensures that they pay attention to the environment in their operations,” she said.
The position was reiterated by the Police Border Control and Minerals Unit and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.
Chegutu East legislator Cde Webster Shamu said the cooperative has a lot of potential and the model should be replicated across the country to curb gold leakages.
“Operations here are structured with everything monitored so that there is no prejudice to the country. The number of people employed here can easily be increased and if replicated then employment creation will be achieved,” he said.