Oliver Kazunga and Ishemunyoro Chingwere
BULAWAYO. — Government has identified one million hectares of protected mining land across the country for distribution to small-scale miners in all provinces.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Fred Moyo, revealed this in Bulawayo yesterday while addressing the women in mining breakfast meeting at the ongoing Mining Engineering and Transport (Mine Entra) expo.
He told the gathering much of the geology of the protected land was largely gold, which would benefit many indigenous miners and help boost the economy.
“It (land) was protected ground, it was all over the provinces but of course the geology is largely gold so those provinces with more gold than others obviously will have more hectorage. But we’re releasing in all the provinces and its basically happening now,” Deputy Minister Moyo said.
He explained that the documentation relating to the release of the land was being signed across all the provinces, adding that some of the land that has already been signed for was in Mashonaland West and the Midlands (Dadaya area) and one in Masvingo.
“We are already signing and we’re in the process of removing the Exclusive Prospecting Orders (EPOs); some were signed last week and more will be signed. Remember these would be protected areas and we are removing the protection and once those are uplifted then people can go and peg the normal way that they do,” he said.
“That is where the women in mining were saying can you protect part of that ground but they should just rush and go in and peg like anybody else.” The breakfast meeting ran under the theme, “Exploring linkages in the mining value chain: Opportunities for women”.
Mr Moyo said the Government will also allocate mining claims to women in mining without giving a specified percentage that would be reserved for them saying women should take advantage of that window.
Of late, the Government has adopted a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy to encourage investors or mining claim owners to exploit the land they possess to promote economic growth and development.
He said the release of the land was part of the Government efforts to empower its citizens and complimenting the funding initiatives that have been aimed at boosting mineral output.
In an interview with The Herald Business, Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Ms Aplonia Munzverengwi, whose organisation represents the bulk of small-scale miners, said some miners were already illegally exploiting the fields, but the country was not reaping any benefits because the gold was sold on the black market.
She commended Government’s move to legalise and open more of these gold rich fields to artisanal miners, which she said would turnaround gold mining in the country.
“We have always been lobbying Government that there is need to legalise miners who are operating in some of these reserved areas for the benefit of the country,” said Ms Munzverengwi.
“We are thus elated that they have finally agreed and you will see the results on our deliveries at Fidelity. We are confident that our deliveries can surpass what the country has been getting from the big players,” she said.