Mining licence fees reduced for small scale miners
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The move is meant to formalise the sector and increase production.
At the beginning of this year an ordinary gold prospecting licence for 10 hectares was increased to $500 from $100 while registration fees for mining claims on the same piece of land cost about $2000.
There was an outcry as small-scale miners felt the fees were not affordable.
Speaking during the commissioning of mining machinery for small-scale miners in Umguza yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said the licensing system was an obstacle to the growth of small-scale miners.
"From today onwards we will reduce licence fees for small-scale miners for them to get registered easily. Even those who cannot afford should approach our offices and we will give them licences so that police will not trouble them," said Dr Mpofu.
"Small-scale miners contribute one third of the country's total gold output and between January and April this year they produced one tonne compared to big companies that produced a combined two tonnes. It is sad that these people are looked down upon and given demeaning names."
Dr Mpofu said the empowerment of small-scale miners was envisaged to curb rampant smuggling of precious minerals, which deprived the country of much-needed revenue.
"Presumptive tax on gold buyers should be scrapped as it is one of the factors fuelling smuggling of minerals. I have been talking to Finance Minister Tendai Biti that there is no reason why we should create cumbersome conditions for people who are supporting our economy," said Dr Mpofu.
"Small-scale miners should not be harassed. We should establish shops for gold buying in all cities so that miners can sell their minerals openly without fear and without anyone questioning them. This will curb smuggling and Government will benefit a lot.
"It is these restrictive laws that are killing our economy and suffocating the growth of small-scale miners."
Turning to the equipment support, Dr Mpofu said small-scale miners in all provinces would receive support according to their needs.
He said the machinery support scheme was an integral component of the Medium Term Policy (MTP), which seeks to achieve sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction and employment creation.
The equipment consists of boar mills, compressors, generators, drilling accessories and water pumps.
More than 50 small-scale miners including women and youth will receive compressors under the scheme while the other equipment will be distributed at Ministry workshops in Bulawayo, Harare and Gweru.
The commissioning of mining machinery for small-scale miners is facilitated through the Ministry's Mining Industry Loan Fund (MILF).
Meanwhile, representatives of financial institutions that attended the event pledged to partner Government in provision of financial support for small-scale miners.
These included Tetrad Bank, POSB, ZB Bank, BancABC and Stanbic.
Speaking at the same occasion Environmental Management Agency Matabeleland North manager Mrs Zuze Chipo Mpofu urged small-scale miners to conserve the environment.
Zimbabwe School of Mines chief executive officer Mr Dzingirai Tusai pledged his institution's support to provide skilled manpower, technical guidance and training courses for small-scale miners.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Prince Mupazwiriho, also said there was no need to criminalise small-scale miners, who are now called artisanal miners as opposed to amakorokoza.
He said his Ministry has not come up with exact figures of the new reduced licence fees, as there was a need for holistic consultation.
The event was held at the mine of Mr Dubuza Mpunzi and his wife Zanele, who are some of the successful small-scale miners in the area.
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