Artisanal miners excited about $250m facility
From The Herald by Livingstone Marufu
ZIMBABWE Miners Federation (ZMF) — an umbrella body for almost 8 000 small-scale miners says the $250 million facility being organised by Government, would help them achieve their target of 20 tonnes of gold this year.
This follows Government efforts of trying to rescue a $100 million mining equipment deal that is tottering on the brink of collapse.
Government has been working on a deal that would have seen a Chinese firm, the XCMG Group, supplying mining equipment worth $100 million to local artisanal miners so that they ramp up gold production.
Apart from the mining equipment deal, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has also increased the Gold Development Fund to $150 million this year from $80 million last year.
The two facilities are expected to capacitate small-scale gold miners so that they increase output.
ZMF chief executive officer Wellington Takavarasha told The Herald Business that they are happy with the support they are getting from Government.
“ . . . we hope that the $150 million will help us to mechanise and improve on our production. We have been suffering due to lack of machinery but given the support, we expect ourselves to raise the bar way higher,” said Mr Takavarasha.
“We continue to hope that the $100 million facility from the Chinese company will materialise soon so that we can ramp up production in these early months of the year.
“If we can get the aforementioned facilities, we can produce up to 20 tonnes of gold this year. Of the targeted 30 tonnes of gold, we are targeting to produce above 70 percent of the total output.”
Mr Takavarasha said they want Government to help in the regularisation and formalisation of the sector to make the sub-sector more profitable.
Artisanal miners no longer want to be called “makorokoza”, and are keen to be registered so that they access capital from investors.
Last year, small-scale miners produced 53 percent of the 24,8 tonnes produced last year.
This year, artisanal miners are fancying their chances of reaching 70 percent of the total output this year.
Mr Takavarasha said the facilities from Government and the RBZ will enhance capacity building for small-scale miners, the majority of whom are keen to be full-fledged mining firms and contribute further to fiscus.
The deal to bring in mining equipment worth $100 million under a loan facility has been on the cards since 2012.
Artisanal miners expect 32 one-stop-shop service centres, which include milling, technical services, mining consumables and equipment, to be established across the country to smoothen mining activity.
ZMF says working conditions and capital requirements for small-scale miners need to be improved for it to directly impact on output.
Miners require equipment such as jack hammers, pumps and generators.
Between January and February, small-scale miners have delivered almost 2,5 tonnes.
Overall, miners have delivered about 4,7 tonnes of gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners — a gold buying unit of the RBZ.
The RBZ highly regards gold mining as it has become a key contributor to foreign currency generation.