Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
ARTISANAL and small-scale miners in the gold rich Insiza District of Matabeleland South Province are appealing to the Government to support them with equipment and machinery to boost their mining activities and positively contribute to the achievement of the US$12 billion mining industry target by 2023.
The mining industry is one of the country’s economic cornerstones with the sector presently contributing about 70 percent of the country’s foreign currency earnings.
Filabusi miner, Mr Musindo Ncube said they were appealing for support to improve on their production.
“Most artisanal and small-scale miners have taken heed of the Government’s calls to formalise their operations so that there are structural operations that puts a plug on leakages.
“However, lack of equipment and machinery are among some of the setbacks hindering us from growing our operations and boosting production,” said Mr Ncube.
Mr Ncube who started his mining operations in 1992 has 13 blocks with seven in Filabusi and the other six in neighbouring Mberengwa District.
He said if capacitated with the requisite machinery and equipment he could employ up to 500 workers from the current 150.
Mr Ncube said the contribution of miners to economic growth and social activity in Filabusi could not be taken likely.
He added: “As a way of giving back to the community as miners we have carried out various projects for the development of our district and surrounding areas. We have the potential to do more, and our appeal is for the Government to support us with mining plant equipment in order to enhance gold production and increase deliveries.”
Another miner, Mr Moffat Sithole who started mining in 2004 said their operations have been on and off due to lack of capital that derail efforts of acquiring more machinery or fix the already available ones.
“The small-scale mining sector suffers mostly from lack of capacitation and human capital development, a situation that has limited the potential of the sector to immensely contribute to the country’s economic development. Most of these miners use manual labour due to lack of machinery,” said Mr Sithole.
Economic analyst, Mrs Cynthia Moyo says the requirement of collateral to access loans is a stumbling block for miners who are in need of capital to boost their production.
She said it was time financial institutions found structures to mechanise artisanal and small-scale miners.
“Banks and financial institutions should start to consider using the miners’ claims as collateral if they are in production. They can also consider the miners output as well, for example, if the miners are producing 200 to 400 grammes a week, financial institutions could use their production as collateral,” said Mrs Moyo.
“That has to be used as their collateral so that they can access cash loans for mechanisation and upscaling of their operations so as to boost their production.”
Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has, however, been positive that the country’s mining sector remains on course to generate the US$12 billion revenue by the year 2023.
In 2019, President Mnangagwa launched the US$12 billion mining industry roadmap where gold is expected to contribute US$4 billion, platinum US$3 billion while chrome, iron, steel, diamonds and coal will contribute US$1 billion each.
Lithium is expected to contribute US$500 million while other minerals contribute US$1,5 billion.
The mining sector is also expected to play a pivotal role in the attainment of the country’s vision of being an upper middle-income economy by 2030 as espoused in the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).