The Sunday Mail
It took great passion and a clear vision for women from different backgrounds to come together and achieve economic empowerment.
What started as a church workshop eight months ago saw the birth of Dominance Mining Syndicate (DMS), a gold mining consortium made up of 12 women.
The 12 ladies dared to be different and ventured into the male-dominated artisanal mining sector.
Each member made a capital injection of $125 towards the business. This was meant for registration, geological surveys and pegging.
Now, DMS is ready to start production next week after meeting all the licensing processes as per regulatory requirements. They acquired a claim in Kadoma.
Initial production will be done using outsourced machinery.
“We all met at a workshop and came up with this idea to combine efforts and venture into gold mining,” said project coordinator. Mrs Molly Chuma in an interview with The Sunday Mail Business.
“We decided to exploit the vast opportunities available in gold mining, this could be our chance to grow into big corporations because we have no intention of remaining small, we want to contribute meaningfully to mining exports and employment creation,” she said.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s second single largest foreign currency earner after tobacco.
DMS is also looking at cashing in on the export incentive, which should add to the consortium’s income streams.
During the first year of production, DMS will channel its profits into capitalising the business, with focus on acquiring machinery.
The ultimate goal is for each member of the consortium to be weaned off DMS by acquiring more claims for each member.
Mrs Chuma said artisanal mining is a low-hanging fruit, although capital intensive.
Women could take advantage of the various training programmes that are initiated by Government through the Ministry of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development to capacitate them and enhance their participation in the mainstream economy.
She, however, indicated that mining needs a hands-on approach.
“There are no short-cuts in this business. Others have failed because they do not want to follow the proper procedures. They are impatient and as a result, they get duped of their investments.
“Get the right information from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, they offer assistance and necessary guidelines.
This is how we managed to pull this off.
“As women, it is easy to be bullied out of your investment, which is why it is important to follow the proper channels and not use the back-door or short-cuts in this male dominated industry,” she said.
Artisanal mining in Zimbabwe plays a significant role in building the economy.
The sector now accounts for over half of the gold delivered through Fidelity Printers. Last year, artisanal miners contributed 53 percent of the gold delivered to Fidelity.
Government has been working on initiatives to boost gold output, especially from artisanal miners, such as the export incentives as well as decentralisation of the registration process with the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
Despite efforts to encourage participation of artisanal miners in the mainstream economy, women in Zimbabwe still lag behind in this sector, a trend that is widespread globally.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), there is need to raise awareness at primary level for women to actively participate in mining.
This is in recognition of the critical role they play within mineral production as well as in the development of sustainable communities.
Enhancing their role can help in the positive transformation of artisanal mining.
The UNCTAD report further highlights that women in artisanal small-scale mining communities are critical to community stability, cohesiveness, moral and general well-being and can initiate positive change.
However, in many countries, women do not participate in mining due to cultural values as it is taboo in some countries for women to enter certain sections of the underground mine.
“It is, however, not a bed of roses. There is a lot of travelling needed and mining is not a cell phone business, you need to be on the ground, which may be difficult for most women.
“For us, raising the initial capital injection was the biggest challenge, and knowing exactly where the gold is,” she said.