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Makorokoza better than Mining Conglomerates – Chitando

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According to 2020 data released by the government-controlled sole gold buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the small-scale mining sector has become the dominant gold producer in the country after overtaking established mining companies in the last few years. The data revealed that the bulk of gold output during the seven months of 2020 came from small-scale miners who delivered 7,128 tonnes while large scale producers accounted for 4,89 tonnes.
The question is why not close proper mines and support production by artisanal miners if this is so?Minister of Mines and Mining Development Hon Winston Chitando alluded to the fact artisanal miners also known as ”makorokoza’s” indeed fared better than their bigger more established brothers the mining conglomerates. He however told TechnoMag the only reason is because most conglomerates had shut down business which gave small scale miners the current edge which however will tip once the big mines closed reopen.

TechnoMag’s Ross Moyo asked the Minister of Mines ”why is this anomaly, why do we have small scale miners able to do better than those who are better equipped with all the machinery in the world…” to which Minister Chitando said

 

”i think i always want to look at these issues in terms of what is there and what is happening ..are you aware that  Shamva Mine closed,  Athen Mines in Mvuma is effectively still closed..Gaika Mine is still closed we had a number of closures that took place over a period of time what is important is to say how is government approaching the gold sector that’s what’s most important and in terms of that approach  you are aware government signed  an agreement with Caledonia where Caledonia will become a 50 tons gold producer over a number of years, its unlocking value…”

 
He added

 ” are you aware government is facilitating the reopening of  those mines and that will see the equation tip but also at the same time government will want to see increased production and capacity from the small scale miners and we have a number of pilot interventions which are on the cards to see that happening so we are looking at huge growth at both artisanal and large scale miners so that we utilize our resources for the development of the country.”

 

 

 

Freda Rebecca gold mine, located 90km northeast of Harare in Zimbabwe, has proven reserves of 2.4 million tons just as an example of how much gold deposits artisanal miners and large mines boast of.
The Blanket Mine  located in the south-west of Zimbabwe approximately 15 km west of Gwanda, the provincial capital of Matabeleland South is another were artisanal miners are flourishing.

Parliament this week called for policy reforms that lead to formalization of artisanal mining and the informal sector to ensure they play a major role in stimulating economic growth and promote a flexible labour market. Because of the success story of the artisanal miners, calls in parliament to formalize the informal sector will hopefully not fall on deaf ears as has always been the case. Since the 1990s, Zimbabwe’s growing informal sector has contributed over 60% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), and it also boasts almost US$5,2 million trade, with 65% of persons in the sector being women.

Moving a motion in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Headlands MP Christopher Chingosho (Zanu PF) said because the Zimbabwean economy was dominated by the informal sector, there was need for its formalisation in the long term.

“The informal sector is at the bottom of the economic pyramid and they often face challenges in accessing financial support from mainstream financial institutions, yet their development is vital to employment creation, poverty alleviation and economic development,” he said.

“The artisanal and small-scale mining sector is a source of livelihoods for several mining communities and has been producing more through gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners. There is need to formalise the sector and create decent work for these communities in an effort to promote sustainable development.”

Chingosho said the recent hike in mining fees would have negative implications on the participation of locals in the minerals value chain.

In 2020, government gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 95 of 2020 which increased mining fees, and among the increases were registration fees for base minerals like lead, copper, nickel, and the cost in dealing with precious stones range from $2 000 to $100 000.

Such high fees will force artisanal miners to continue operating illegally, he added.

Chingosho said formalisation should include moving informal workers to formal jobs, registering, taxing them and providing business incentives, among others.

He said a case study of Ghana revealed that the benefit of formalising the underground economy was the creation of incentives for those operating informally to see the value of becoming formal.

Chingosho said Zimbabwe could also follow the Rwandan formalisation model, where the Small and Medium Enterprises ministry and local authorities were engaged in the formation and formalisation of informal traders’ blocs for ease  tax administration.

“Policy changes that are targeted at introducing flat tax rates or flat tax amounts for informal traders are needed as well as tailor-made education workshops and specialised training for revenue authority staff in handling different categories of taxpayers.” As a starting point for Zimbabwe, he said a database of informal traders can be obtained from local authorities where informal traders pay levies.

Minister Chitando told TechnoMag

”then we also have gold were we have lots of breaches large scale mining and small scale mining..on the large scale miners the notable projects includes but not limited to Shamva mine whose re-opening was graced by His EXCELLENCY,  Which will produce up to 5 Tonnes Eureka .”
”So far one and a half tonnes a brand new production and lots of expansions in new projects and also lots of increase in the artisanal gold production which we are targeting .”
”we are targeting to have 100 tonnes per annum by 2023 yes admittedly we witnessed a slump in production last year …BUT Government is working. and looking at the policy framework to see how government can facilitate the production of 100 tonnes per annum of gold.”
So there is hope for the gold sector which is already producing in overdrive especially for the artisanal miners who have proved their mettle.
Ross Moyo

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