Oliver Kazunga recently in Victoria Falls
GOVERNMENT is working to restore 100 percent foreign currency cash pay outs to small-scale gold miners delivering the mineral to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Fidelity recently cut foreign currency cash pay outs to small-scale miners by 40 percent upon delivery of the yellow metal while the remainder was deposited into the miners’ bank accounts.
Responding to questions from the floor during a Parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls on Friday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said his ministry has since engaged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development over the matter.
“My assumption was that people (small-scale miners) were being paid the full value of their gold plus the five percent in bond notes, which comes as an incentive.
“I want to assure you that my ministry will discuss the matter with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development (Dr Chombo) and Reserve Bank to make sure the miners are paid 100 percent in foreign currency,” he said.
Minister Chidhakwa said it was important to do that as neighbouring countries were paying 14 percent over and above the price of gold.
He said failure to incentivise gold miners would fuel smuggling of gold from Zimbabwe to countries like South Africa. Minister Chidhakwa also said the Government was not going to allow independent buyers to buy gold as that would result in the smuggling of the mineral.
“We are not going to allow independent buyers to buy gold, we know what the case was in the past before Fidelity became the sole gold buyer of the gold produced in Zimbabwe,” he said.
In the past, the small-scale gold miners, through the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF), had hinted that the reduction in foreign currency payment for gold deliveries was hurting production.
Prior to the new arrangement, small-scale miners used to receive 100 percent cash (US dollars) upon delivery of the metal to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Zimbabwe’s small-scale and artisanal miners account for close to 45 percent of the country’s bullion production, which hit close to 20 tonnes during the first 10 months of the year.—@okazunga