Gold remittances decline as arrests of illegal miners intensify

Gold remittances decline as arrests of illegal miners intensify

By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, September 10 (The Source) – Gold remittances from small scale miners have declined from 17 tonnes nine years ago to around two tonnes owing to the arrests of small scale miners, an industry official has said.

In 2006 government launched a programme called ‘Operation Chikorokoza Chapera’ which saw 9 700 illegal gold miners out of the 1.5 million people involved in the informal sector being jailed.

The Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small Scale Mining Council (Zasmc) president Wellington Takavarasha told delegates at a two-day ‘Alternative Mining Indaba’ that opened in Harare on Tuesday that there was need to formalise the operations of the small scale miners to boost remittances.

“In 2004 they produced 60 percent of the 29 tonnes of gold translating to 17.5 tonnes and in the following year they produced half of what the big mines produced,” he said.

Takavarasha urged government to acknowledge the significant role they played in the country’s economic development.

“Small scale miners in Zimbabwe remain marginalised yet their contribution is significant to the mainstream economy,” he said.

“We want them to mine sustainably and the only way they can do that is for government to recognise their existence.”

He said the requirement for small scale miners to produce Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports before they could be allowed to mine, was hampering  their operations due to the prohibitive costs of the exercise and the inability by players to comprehend the reports.

Consultants were charging around $4000 to write an EIA report while miners a faced closure of mines and fines of  up to $5000  if they did not comply.

Other challenges were related to the high cost of registration with $5000 being fees for pegging mines while millers were required to pay $8000.

“Out of the 429 registered millers, only 65 paid for the new licences,” said Takavarasha.

He also complained about lack of access to loans  as most banks demanded collaterals which the miners did not have.

High taxation was also affecting the miners who were expected to pay  seven percent in  royalties, two percent presumptive tax and commission to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.