Artisanal mining prospects good: Minister Local Government and Public Works Minister Winston Chitando said the country’s oldest town had made commendable strides in the sphere of service delivery.

Talent Chimutambgi-Herald Reporter

Mining makes major contribution to the development of the country, but all miners have to adhere to the laws of the land to mitigate land degradation while still producing the wealth, Mines and Mining Development Minister Wiston Chitando has said.

In his presentation at Zimbabwe National Defence University on the balance between gains in mining and land degradation with focus on the artisanal small-scale mining, he said small-scale miners were contributing significantly to the development of the country.

But as much as the Government supported small-scale miners, every miner had to observe the environmental and mining regulations to minimise the environmental damage.

Government came up with an initiative to enhance order in artisanal small-scale mining, he said.

“Government in 2021 came out with a policy of the responsible mining initiative which states that every mining activity should observe the laws of the country, be it immigration laws, labour laws, the Finance Act for the payment of tax as well as environmental laws,” said Minister Chitando.

“Government does support artisanal mining as in 2022, 69 percent of the gold production came from artisanal small-scale miners. What is important is the Government working with all stakeholders to ensure all laws are applied.” 

Efforts were escalating to ensure enforcement of the mining regulations.

Minister Chitando said the laws that applied to the artisanal miners were not selective.

“Government will be increasingly putting resources into ensuring the enforcement of the responsible mining initiative,” he said. 

“It’s a fact that there are what we often call sites, there was some land which was degraded before and it’s a question that the Cabinet is handling. 

“For those into mining they are doing it to ensure that there is no land degraded. Whether you are artisanal or a large miner, responsible mining must be applied and we make sure the principles are adhered to. No matter where you are mining, there we make sure that enforcement is done. 

“Small-scale mining, in simple terms there are two reasons why it is always there. The first is that there are bodies which are meant for artisanal mining, so we have to live with it and manage it. They are a good source of employment, good revenue, but we want it to be done in an organised manner.

“The second reason is that the provisions of the Constitution imply that there are concessions which are small that cannot be undertaken by the Government.” 

Minister Chitando said the Act that governed mining activities had three major specifications which were vital to counter land degradation.

“The Mines and Minerals Act specifies three stages to commence production whereby one should first acquire a mining licence and secondly to get a mining plan that will specify where you want to carry out mining activities. The third one is the Environmental Impact Assessment which is carried out by the Environmental Management Agency.”

“This will ensure that the effects that will be associated with land degradation are dealt with, meaning if its open cast mining, how are going to back fill it without jeopardising the environment,” said Minister Chitando.

He said all the efforts were meant to propel the country towards attaining the national goals.

“It is very important that when we develop our mining industry, we ensure that the benefits still go into upwards and downwards integration industries and as such that is the objective of the NDS1,” he said.

 “Recently, for those who observe, you can see the resurgence in these industries and new industries and what is pleasing is to see the role played by the small-scale miners in supplying the mining sector. These are the benefits of the upward integration of the mining industry.”

Minister Chitando said the focus was now to ensure promotion of industries so that the inputs would raise exports thereby soaring the country’s gross domestic product.

“From the main activities of the mining, we then have a spike in benefits,” he said. “In Bikita, a US$900 million new mineral plant is set to open which is expected to change the face of Bikita. Also in Chakari and other various areas mining will contribute towards the US$12 billion target.”

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