COMMENT: Government incentives spur local gold miners

The Chronicle

Local gold miners produced 29, 46 tonnes of the metal between January and October this year, a significant jump from 22, 02 tonnes that they sold during the comparable period last year, we reported yesterday.

As usual, small to medium scale miners continue to beat larger companies in terms of production after they mined 19,98 tonnes over the 10 months, up from 12,95 tonnes last year.  Large scale miners delivered 9, 47 tonnes, a marginal increase from 9,07 tonnes they sold over the same period last year.

In the history of local gold mining, the highest output was achieved in 2018 when producers sold 35 tonnes.

Mr Wellington Takavarasha

We are delighted at the progress miners are making in producing the country’s number one foreign currency earner.  This advances the national goal of growing the mining sector to a US$12 billion industry by 2023, with the yellow metal leading the pack.

The improving production is down to hard work on the part of small and larger miners and the incentives that the Government has come up with, among them more timeous payment for deliveries, in hard currency.  Also, law enforcement agents aren’t running after informal miners the way they used to.  In their large numbers, the hundreds of thousands of informal miners, omakorokoza, are the engine of the sector.  These conditions motivate the industry to work harder and deliver to Fidelity Printers and Refiners in the knowledge that they would be promptly and fairly paid.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer, Mr Wellington Takavarasha, said increased gold output was indicative of more collaboration and hard work by different stakeholders in the sector.

“Gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners have greatly improved because of increased collaboration between stakeholders. These include the Chamber of Mines representing conglomerates and ZMF representing small scale miners,” he said.

“There have been constant meetings and review of Government policies and also agreed implementation of policies.  There has been so much Government involvement as leaders continued to have many engagements with miners.” 

The Government must intensify its support and incentives for miners, the geese that produce the gold.  We want primary producers to continue expanding their businesses; they must invest more in exploration, new machinery and technology to enhance their recovery and processing capacities.  Informal producers are encouraged to formalise their operations so they grow.  We are sure they want to grow bigger.   

With only two months to the end of the year, we don’t think the industry will match the 2018 record, let alone better it.  But they have already matched the 2019 output of 29,4 tonnes. This is encouraging. 

However, we have this nagging feeling that, local miners aren’t producing as much as they must considering the abundance of gold in the country.  They have not even started scratching the surface.  Caledonia Mining Corporation is doing great at Blanket Mine in Gwanda.  The company is also expanding its footprint across the country with the July deal with Bilboes and its acquisition of the Maligreen gold claims in the Midlands.  Caledonia has also acquired the Motapa Mining Company Limited which sits close to Bilboes.  With its great work at Blanket and the acquisition spree, Caledonia should be the undisputed leader in gold production in the country in the not-too-distant future.  

If other large miners emulate them, output would grow to the level we want, perhaps doubling the 2018 record.  

As mentioned earlier, the local gold mining sector hasn’t even started scratching the surface.  

Ghana is Africa’s number one producer with 117 tonnes in 2021, followed by South Africa with 100 tonnes, Sudan at 93 tonnes, Mali 63 tonnes and Burkina Faso 45 tonnes.  This is the league our country must be in considering the large gold resource we have.  But to be in that category, we need about 10 Caledonias, the informal producers must formalise their operations and grow and the Government must further enhance the incentives while also thwarting smuggling of the mineral.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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