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Zimbabwe to set up 15 gold servicing centres

by Staff reporter
20 Dec 2020 at 06:43hrs | Views
ARTISANAL and small-scale miners are optimistic that the proposed construction of more gold processing centres will ensure that the country generates the much-needed foreign capital and plug illicit mineral leakages.

This comes in the wake of the Government's ambitious drive to have fully equipped gold milling and processing plants where the yellow metal is heavily extracted.

In the incoming economic blueprint, the National Development Strategy (NDS-1) that commences next year up to 2025, it is envisaged that every gold mining concession must have a processing centre.

Small-scale miners are relying on one integrated and formal processing centre, the Bubi Gold Service Centre in Matabeleland North Province, which was opened in 2018.

It is envisaged that gold service centres planned by the Government will, in essence, provide a one-stop shop where gold milling, processing, secondary extraction with cyanidation are done.

Other gold processing and milling sites that serve the small-scale mining activity are at the hands of private players.
It has been noted with concern from miners that custom processing centres rip off miners of their money through charging high processing fees and undervaluing gold delivered.

Privately run service centres offer instant cash but often to the detriment of the small-scale miner as rates are below market levels.

The mining industry is of the view that gold service centres will be a conduit in ensuring the formalisation of some small-scale mining activities and curb illicit gold flows.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, in his delivery note on NDS1 said more gold processing centres will be established, with the aim of empowering every artisanal and small-scale gold miner.

"Centralised gold service centres will be established during the NDS1 period," Prof Ncube said.

He said the only gold service centre at Bubi will be complemented by 14 more centres in the country's eight gold mining districts.

There has been an understanding by both monetary and mining authorities that in order for the country to achieve the US$12 billion economy in mining, gold extraction by small-scale miners has to be supported by gold processing facilities.

Having endured years of manipulation by private service centres, hopes are high within the small-scale sector that the NDS1 economic blueprint's promise will ease the trouble.

Gold accounts for 30 percent of the country's total mineral exports, of which small-scale mining plays a huge contributory role. The Ministry of Mining and Mining Development places the yellow metal miners as the bedrock of mining and socio-economic development.

With the intention to increase the number of gold service centres being the Government's first priority in the gold sector, the Minister of Mining and Mining Development, Winston Chitando, told Sunday News on Thursday last week that the target was way beyond 15 centres as more investors were interested.

"The noble idea is to have gold centres that are community-based and funded, but now that we have interested investors, we are expecting more centres to be opened, given the number of gold mining areas we have countrywide.

"The more the centres, the better it will be for the miners as well. As we talk of benefits to the small-scale miners, we also talk of the realisation of reaching our target as a country of boosting production," he said.

While the establishment of more gold service centres appears to be a dream to some small-scale miners who have long relied on dubious private millers, a majority of the miners have given a thumbs up to the Government's commitment.

Mr Ishmael Kaguru, a seasoned small-scale mining consultant, told Sunday News in an interview that the construction of gold centres, as noted by NDS1, will be the springboard that the gold mining sector had long wished to step on, as the industry fights rampant smuggling.

"There is no doubt at all that what we are reading from the NDS1 blueprint will benefit the small-scale miner and the country in terms of gold earnings," he said.

"Through the setting up of more gold processing centres, miners will have the confidence to get substantively high returns and meet their targets as well. Miners are being taken for granted by these individually owned processing entities. We have records of small-time miners whose gold ore is sold for a song."

Mr Kaguru, who is also a member of the Bubi Small-Scale Miners Association said if all the mining districts of the country have processing centres, smuggling would be nipped in the bud.

"The idea, if well planned and quickened, will also curb the smuggling of gold. If buying centres are on site of where mines are located, it means the miners have no stress on how they will transport their ore and sell to.

"These gold service centres will plug leakages and widespread smuggling that has been associated with small-scale gold mining."

The Zimbabwe Miners' Federation (ZMF) which represents the bulk of small-scale miners, has from time to time said the only way to boost gold production was through the introduction of service centres.

As the mining sector gears to increase its gold output, ZMF spokesperson Mr Dosman Mangisi is of the view that the only way to realise increased production is in the setting up of gold service centres.

"The benefit of a gold service centre cannot be over-emphasised. There is a cost-effective factor that benefits the miners and so doing gives the country a leverage in terms of monitoring and trading its gold," said Mr Mangisi.

Gold miners have been at risk of robbers and bogus agents, owing to the lack of gold service centres close to where they mine.

A gold miner in the Matobo mineral concession, Mr Gladman Ncube said he would prefer to stockpile his gold ore than risk driving to Bubi.

"There is a reason we go elsewhere to sell our gold. Pretty obvious because buyers come directly to our mines and offer foreign currency. For me to travel to Bubi is risky. Some have been robbed.

"I pray that we also get a gold service centre here. It is not about the miners but the community as well."

Source - sundaynews