THE Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Miners’ Council (Zamsc) is negotiating with big mining companies to release some of the claims they are holding to small-scale players as part of efforts to decriminalise informal mining in the country.
In an interview with Southern Eye Business yesterday Zamsc president Wellington Takavarasha said big mining companies were holding to huge claims they were not using which small-scale players have been illegally invading.
He said negotiations were going on with the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines over a possible release of some claims.
“The antagonism between small-scale miners and big mining companies must be a thing of the past,” Takavarasha said.
“We are in negotiations with Chamber of Mines that big mining companies release some of the claims they are holding to small-scale miners,” he added.
The government recently announced that it was targeting finalising the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act by the end of January next year, expected to also usher in a policy decriminalising the operations of informal small-scale miners.
The amendment of the law would partly allow mining companies to release claims they are not using to small-scale players without pay.
Large-scale mining companies are holding to huge claims some of which they are not using.
As a result, the Mines ministry is currently carrying out an exercise throughout the country to establish how many registered mining claims are not being used especially by big mining players, and then come up with initiatives on how such claims could be given to small-scale miners on a tribute payment system.
As part of efforts to formalise small-scale mining, Zamsc last week announced that it had courted World Bank and Department for International Development to fund the operation of small-scale miners in an effort to also improve livelihoods involved in the sector.
Takavarasha said the two organisations were interested in funding artisanal miners estimated at 500 000 and the programme was expected to commence next year.
“The funders are coming back next year in February and we are expecting the programme to start at the same time,” Takavarasha added.
He said the two organisations pledged to provide technical support and financial support to artisanal miners as part of efforts to formalise the sector.
Small-scale mining in Zimbabwe contributes a significant portion to mining output although the sector continues to be criminalised.
However, the government in conjunction with Zamsc is also in the process of registering 1,5 million small-scale miners countrywide by the end of this year, as part of plans to formalise the sector and improve production.
According to Zamsc, as of July this year, only 25 000 small-scale miners had been registered. Unregistered miners have been facing a plethora of challenges ranging from criminalisation and failure to access funding from banks, largely due to lack of collateral.
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