Artisanal miners await $100 million facility

Livingstone Marufu
ZIMBABWE Miners Federation (ZMF) says the US$100 million loan facility by Chinese mining equipment manufacturer XCMG Group is expected to help capacitate small-scale gold miners and increase output from the sector.

While small producers in the gold industry now contribute 45 percent of total output, Government wants them to ramp up production even further.

The funding comes at a time when Government is pushing for the increased contribution from the artisanal small scale gold miners who contribute 45 percent of total gold mining output.

Already, US$5 million worth of equipment  from the facility organised by XCMG from China Development Bank has been has been handed over to the first batch of beneficiaries.

ZMF chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha said: “I am glad that Government has realised the potential of the artisanal miners, hence accessing US$100 million worth of mining equipment is a game changer, not only to small-scale mining but also the whole mining sector.

“The facility will enhance capacity building for small-scale miners who for a long time felt isolated from the mining proceeds from the fiscus. This fund will help to establish majority of our miners into full-fledged mining companies which can contribute further to national output.”

Difficulties in accessing the facility, which has been on the cards since 2012, have been caused by delays by Government to guarantee loans from China Development Bank.

According to Mr Takavarasha, 32 one-stop shop service centres, which include milling, technical services, mining consumables and equipment, will be established across the country in order to smoothen mining activity.

Industry representative body, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), says working conditions and capital requirements for small-scale miners need to be improved for it to directly impact on output.

CZI president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe told The Sunday Mail Business last week that more needs to be done for the small-scale miners for them to meaningfully contribute to the sector.

“Small-scale miners contribute around 45 percent of the total output of gold yearly but they operate under difficult conditions with no advanced machinery to help them mine deeper.

“There’s need to give them a quick access to mechanisation that will help them to increase production rapidly because most of them are using manual methods of mining… But if we give them access to jack hammers and generators, it will result in a rapid growth of the small scale sector.

“During the rainy season we need to give them pumps to continue with their mining during that time of year,” said Mr Jabangwe

While big mining houses such as Metallon, How Mine, Blanket Mine and Caledonia are targeting 15 tonnes this year, small-scale producers are forecasting 10 tonnes.

Fidelity Printers and Refiners expect deliveries to soar in the second half. Gold deliveries are projected to reach 25 tonnes by year end. The US$40 million facility provided by the central bank for gold buying is also expected to increase output.

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