Fund for small miners
Harare – The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is establishing a US$1 million fund to finance small-scale miners’ operations in the country.
MMCZ board chairperson Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa said the fund was meant to assist small-scale miners boost their production and that the money had been raised from internal resources.
“MMCZ has already committed US$1 million to the fund. We can do it alone but other like-minded partners are welcome. The aim is to remove the burden of underfunding among the small scale miners,” he said.
“We also want this fund to aid value addition to minerals such as gold, tantalite, chrome and diamonds before exportation.”
Ambassador Mutsvangwa said once small-scale miners were assisted, they would be able to create employment as well as contribute to economic development in Zimbabwe.
The small-scale mining sector has failed to realise its potential due to lack of funding, a skills shortage and the unavailability of adequate machinery.
They also face constraints in accessing viable markets.
The Zimbabwe government has tried to assist small-scale miners by establishing several funding mechanisms and providing machinery, including jackhammers, at low-cost or on a hire-to-buy basis.
Analysts contend that if the sector receives adequate funding it can significantly contribute to the country’s overall mineral output and thus boost growth and development. For example, small-scale gold producers have, since the introduction of a multiple currency regime in Zimbabwe in early 2009, constantly upped their production levels. Last year, they contributed about half of the country’s total gold output, which reached 13.47 tonnes.
However, other small-scale miners – notably those in the chrome sector – are not performing well. The government has a ban in place on the export of raw chrome. Miners lack the capacity to process chrome and thus find illegal ways of exporting the raw commodity, while others have ceased production altogether.
The government enforced the ban on raw chrome exports two years ago so as to encourage local beneficiation of the sought-after mineral.
It is understood that most of Zimbabwe’s raw chrome finds its way to China, where demand is high due to the booming economy, via South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.
The mining sector remains integral to Zimbabwe’s growth and development aspirations, and has been growing at an average rate of 30 percent over the past two years.
In 2012 the mining sector contributed an estimated 16 percent to GDP, up from 13 percent in 2011.
The sector also led in export earnings, raking in US$2 billion in 2012, which was US$300m higher than that earned in the previous year.