GOVERNMENT has finalised effecting amendments to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, which will see small scale miners getting recognition at law, as Government steps up efforts to grow the sector and boost mineral production.
This was revealed by Mines and Mining Development Minister, Mr Winston Chitando, when he met small scale miners drawn from Mashonaland West Province in Chegutu on Thursday.
The President is expected to sign the Bill into law anytime from now.
Small scale mining has over the years grown to be a major player in the local mining sector and last year the sector accounted for 53 percent of the country’s 24, 8 tonnes of gold deliveries over and above a large chunk they contributed to production of chrome and other metals.
Government also contends that the country’s geology is such that there are mineral deposits which are not amenable to extraction by conglomerates, but viable for exploitation by small scale miners thus the importance of the sector.
Speaking during the meeting on Thursday and in response to the small scale miners’ grievances, Minister Chitando said Government was keen to see the success of the mining sector thus the impending signing into law of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill as well as other Government interventions.
“We finalised, in the last week of seating of Parliament, amendments to the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill and those amendments now have a definition of small scale miners,” said Minister Chitando.
“It was very difficult all along, in terms of the law, there was no legal provision to say the conglomerates will do this, the small scale will do this, because in the (old) law a miner was a miner there was no difference.
“That (Bill) is now at the Attorney General. What that therefore means is that, at law, we can now say we want this for small scale miners because there is a legal basis,” said the Minister to applause from the small scale miners.
In order to adequately and timeously deal with problems bedeviling the sector, the Minister said the soon-to-be-established small scale desk in the ministry will have fortnightly interfaces with the sector’s umbrella representative board, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF).
One of the miners who attended the meeting, Ethan Makwamba, told the Minister that a number of miners’ lives were being lost through mining accidents on a regular basis and made a plea for Government to do something to improve the situation.
Minister Chitando said Government had already put in place the initial framework to reduce accidents through gold centres, which would be rolled out throughout the country with the first one in Bubi due to start operations this Wednesday.
“The President’s wish is zero harm to all our miners, big or small. We want a situation where if one leaves their family for a mining operation the family knows that he or she will come back without failure,” said Minister Chitando.
“What we have done as part of the new policy in Government, is the first gold centre that we will open in Bubi on Wednesday, we will have a SHE officer who will be going around the 90 claims within the centre, advising them on the best ways of mining safely.
“So there will be a roll out of these centres and each will have a SHE officer because there has to be zero harm in all mining activities and also the environment,” he said.
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