GOVERNMENT plans to establish 32 gold processing centres in small-scale mining areas around the country to increase their contribution to national output, a senior government official has said. The centres would offer various services such as gold milling, collection points as well as assist with Environmental Impact Assessments.Mines and Mining Development deputy Minister Fred Moyo said the centres would be equipped with machinery acquired from China under a Chinese Export and Import Bank credit facility.
Deputy minister Moyo said Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Matabeleland South provinces would get the bulk of the gold centres and equipment.
“The equipment is worth $5 million and it is ready to be uplifted,” he said.
“But, freight is on our account so we are deliberating with the Reserve Bank to see whether they and the Bankers Association can come together to raise an amount of $1.5 million which we will use to move the equipment from China to Zimbabwe.”
At peak in 2004, small-scale miners produced 17 tons of gold before output fell to 12,5 tons in 2005.
Thereafter, gold remittances dropped sharply before rising to 3,9 tonnes in 2014.
However, despite the potential that the sector has in contributing to economic growth, some government levies and royalties have resulted in many preferring to operate illegally.
It is estimated that about 1.5 million people are engaged in artisanal mining activities, according to the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, but only 25 000 are registered in accordance to the Mines and Minerals Act.
The Government has been making efforts to prop up small-scale mining operations and last year reduced royalties for small-scale gold miners from 3 percent to 1 percent.
Over the past five years large-scale producers have contributed 75 percent to total gold production, while small-scale miners accounted for the balance.
Increased monitoring and mechanisation efforts by government, has seen the contribution of small-scale miners increasing steadily in recent years. — New Ziana