Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
Government has threatened to descend heavily on large-scale gold mining companies that are reportedly under declaring their gold output.
Some of the primary producers are understood to be selling their gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) through small-scale miners.
This was said yesterday by Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Polite Kambamura during the launch of the State of the Mining Industry 2018 Report in Harare.
“We have noted with concern that there are some large-scale operators who have been under declaring their production, and instead, they have been selling their production through the small-scale miners,” said Deputy Minister Kambamura.
“Very soon we will come hard on such. On gold, we still feel there is a lot to be done. They are not just under declarations by large-scale miners, but there is unaccountability of gold from hammer mills around the country. I challenge the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe to consider tagging all gold mills, and plants so that we know the actual production.”
He said while there are numerous challenges facing the mining sector, which include foreign currency shortages, resulting in some mining companies closing down and others downsizing, it was critical for miners to be truthful in their declarations.
Deputy Minister Kambamura said in some cases, declarations from large-scale miners are from 10 days.
“. . . I still feel that the large-scale operators can produce more than small-scale miners,” he said.
Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe president Mr Batirai Manhando, said while some miners could be under declaring, Government needs to address the operating environment to ensure miners’ viability. The identities of the large-scale miners that are under-declaring could not be immediately established. But sources in the mining sector say the large-scale miners, who are battling serious foreign currency shortages, are now selling their produce through small-scale miners so that they immediately get foreign currency.
Small-scale miners get 70 percent of the revenue for gold sold to FPR in US dollars while 30 percent is deposited into accounts. It is unclear how the foreign currency generated from the underhand dealings would be used. Recently, RioZim shut down three of its mines — Cam and Motor Mine, Dalny Mine and Renco Mine — citing foreign currency challenges. The mines have since reopened after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe intervened.
Deputy Minister Kambamura suggested yesterday that the RBZ should review the foreign currency retention ratio from the current 50 percent to between 65 percent and 70 percent.
“We feel that this amount should be reviewed in phases, to between 65 percent and 70 percent. Dr (John) Mangudya (RBZ boss), I am saying that the wild goose that is laying golden eggs, should be supported so that it continues laying more golden eggs,” he said.