MINES and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando says small scale miners play a key role in government’s efforts to transform the country’s mining sector into an envisaged US$12 billion industry.
Government recently announced an ambitious bid to transform the sector into a US$12 billion industry within the next four years.
“The transformation of the mining sector into a US$12 billion sector is achievable,” Chitando told small scale miners at an Annual General Meeting by the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF).
Small scale miners, Chitando said, have a role to play in attaining the vision.
“The $12 billion milestone is going to be achieved with the support of small-scale miners. The $12 billion milestone is in the process of being achieved,” said the minister.
The ambitious target however comes at a time small scale miners were battling, among other challenges, lack of capacity, lack of financial support, criminalisation of their operations and lack of supporting legislative instruments.
The Mines Minister is however optimistic that the small-scale miners have a key role to play in the attainment of the set goals.
“We do have a very significant role for the small-scale miners in the gold sector, in the chrome sector and in the gemstone sector,” he said.
Chitando further outlined that supporting statutes will be implemented to capacitate small scale miners.
“We are going to see a huge increase in the level of chrome ore which will be mined and the chrome development policy will be held in the beginning of next year so as to ensure that there is fairness and equity in the development and integration between the lax, smelter and small scale miners,” he said.
The minister further said the gold sector was going to play a significant role, “as we move the 100 tonne per annum target to be achieved by 2020”.
Chitando said government has strong hopes for the small-scale mining sector to a point where a desk for small scale miners has been opened in the ministry.
Government is even proposing to have weekly meetings between the Ministry of Mines and ZMF.
He said government wanted, “miners to play a bigger role in the mining industry and a bigger role in the economy of Zimbabwe.”
His comments follow similar sentiments by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that artisanal and small-scale miners were key anchors of the national economy.