Govt takes over riverbed gold mining

GOVERNMENT has resolved to take over mining of gold along riverbeds following reports that private miners were causing massive environmental degradation and exposing fish to toxic chemicals such as mercury.

By Simon Phiri

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa told Parliament a fortnight ago that Cabinet had approved plans to give government the sole right to riverbed mining through a special purpose vehicle (SPV).

“Government is concerned by the environmental degradation arising from uncontrolled riverbed mining activities for gold,” he said.

“In order to curb this negative environmental impact, Cabinet has directed that riverbed mining be the prerogative of government through a special purpose vehicle.”

The development is expected to increase gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refineries and reduce chemical spillages in natural water bodies.

Most small scale miners lack the necessary capital to employ environment friendly and sustainable methods of riverbed mining, a development that has caused severe environment land degradation in areas across the Great Dyke.

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Informal gold mining activities in parts of Shurugwi have caused massive environmental degradation raising fears of health hazards to both humans and animals due to chemical spillages in water bodies.

Gold production for next year is expected to increase by 7% to 20,1 tonnes up from 18,7 tonnes projected for the year 2015.

The country’s total annual output for the mineral, particularly from the small-scale miners, has been on the increase in the past few years following government’s move to compel producers to refine gold locally and sell it to the Fidelity Printers and Refineries.

Chinamasa said government reviewed down royalty rates for small-scale miners to curb informal trade of the precious mineral and noted that gold beneficiation was now yielding “desired results”.

“In the gold sector, notable progress is being made following the Budget ban on export of unrefined gold and designation of Fidelity Printers and Refineries as the sole buyer and exporter of gold in December 2013,” he said.

“The royalty rate for small scale producers was further reviewed downwards from 3% to 1% in September 2015 to curb leakages.
Consequently, deliveries to Fidelity from both informal, small and large scale producers are up, with notable contribution towards the economy’s export earnings.

“Gold deliveries from small scale miners to Fidelity, which were only 1,7 tonnes in 2013, registered 5.9 tonnes for the period January to October 2015.”

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