By Regis Mhako
KEY stakeholders in the mining sector have converged in Kariba to deliberate on the operations of the gold sector which is expected to contribute a third of the projected US$12 billion mining industry by 2023.
Small-scale gold miners contribute about 60 percent of the total output targeted to reach the 40-tonne mark this year, up from about 30 tonnes last year.
However, players in the industry are of the view that Zimbabwe’s share of gold production in Africa remains low at 4 percent yet the country is ranked among global giants like Australia, Brazil and the United States with the richest gold deposits per square kilometre.
Players in the Industry also cited inadequate power, under exploration, failure to identify new mining assets and inadequate capital as key challenges the gold sector should address and possibly treble current production levels.
“There are some critical success factors to consider. We need to undertake exploration and identify new mining assets and provide capital to the gold sector which requires about US$1 billion.
“We also need to make sure that Zesa is supported through increased local production or imports and increase the gold forex retention by mines to 80 percent from the current 60 percent,” said Dr Isaac Kwesu, Chamber of Mines CEO.
“There is a need for a statutory instrument that empowers artisanal miners. Let us also have a situation where Fidelity puts some gold buying centres around gold hotspots,” said Wellington Takavarasha, CEO of Zimabwe Miners Federation.
The chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development, Honourable Edmond Mkaratigwa voiced concern over gold leakages and environmental degradation owing to illegal mining activities.
“There are disturbing reports of gold smuggling which finds its way in the Rand Refinery in South Africa and Dubai. As a country, we are not benefiting from our gold resources.
“Zambia’s currency is now rated as one of the best in the world, the 6th strongest in Africa because it is being supported by copper. Zimbabwe is endowed with 40 minerals with Rich gold deposits and where are we getting it wrong,” he said.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister, Honourable Polite Kambamura gave an overview of the growth being witnessed in the gold sector, the issue of those holding onto exclusive prospecting orders for speculative reasons and the scope of the draft Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill.
“We have opportunities in the sector with the opening up of new and closed mines and the expansion drive in the sector. There is a need to renew antiquated machinery with more opportunities for exploration in the reserved areas,” he said.
Experts believe the country’s gold sector is capable of producing more than 60 tonnes annually if key inhibitive factors are addressed.
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