Nkosilathi Sibanda, Business Correspondent
SMALL-scale and artisanal miners countrywide, who are in the process to have their operations formalised, would want the Government to remove “stringent” clauses in the Gold Trade Act that makes it illegal for one to possess the mineral.
The miners, who have since acceded to calls for them to regularise their business in order to be recognised in the formal economy, said that the proposed amendment of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill must look into the decriminalising of possession of gold section. They noted that the law has greatly affected the sector.
In an interview, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha said there was a need to decriminalise possession of gold.
“Our contribution has been to see that the Government repeals or considers de-criminalisation of possession of gold and expedite the formalisation of small-scale mining activities,” he said.
Mr Takavarasha said the industry also endorsed consultative recommendations for artisanal miners to be part of the diamond mining industry.
“The diamond policy should embrace the activities of artisanal miners.”
A repeal of the Gold Trade Act was also emphasised by the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda who is on record saying there are policy gaps that have to be attended to.
“The Gold Trade Act which addresses the need for clear cut and consistent policies that protect the lives, safety and well-being of small-scale miners must also be looked at. There is no doubt that the small-scale miners are making a significant contribution to the country’s economy.
As such we need to address the policy gaps in the Gold Trade Act especially those clauses that criminalises the possession of Gold and in turn disempower the small-scale miners,” said Adv Mudenda at an address on the review of legislation and policies governing the mining industry in the country recently.
The Government has time and again pushed small-scale and artisanal miners to be formalised and get to be actively involved in the mainstream economy. Formalisation was seen as a one-stop measure to plug leakages in gold mining.
Mr Takavarasha said mining stakeholders, the ZMF and Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) were on a countrywide outreach exercise to small-scale miners in a bid to make them understand the importance of formalising their operations.
“The aim is to rope in the miners into the mainstream industry, bearing that the Government has realised the significant contribution brought about by small-scale miners to the mining sector and the economy.”
Gold production in the country remains high, although FPR has noted a reduction in deliveries. For this year gold deliveries to FPR were estimated at 27 958 kilogrammes, a figure that is way lower than the 2019 levels. Deliveries to FPR fell by more than 12 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, with part of the reasons attributed to leakages and smuggling.