Lovemore Zigara, Business Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) targets to double gold output from the 2015 figures to 14 tonnes this year on the back of small-scale miners’ mechanisation programme.
ZMF is a small-scale and artisanal miners’ representative body.
The federation’s president, Appolonia Munzverengwi, said they have already started the mine mechanisation programme.
As part of small-scale miners mechanisation programme, ZMF has partnered with a local mining equipment manufacturing firm, Yagden Engineering, to supply small-scale miners with gold mills among other equipment.
“We (small-scale miners) intend to double our production so that by the end of this year, we would have reached 24 tonnes (national gold target)”.
Presenting the 2016 national budget last year, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government was targeting 24 tonnes of gold this year up from about 18,7 tonnes in 2015.
“Considering our numbers as small-scale miners, we want to double our production figures to 14 tonnes or even surpass the target. If possible, we want to produce more than our big brothers (large mines) so that they realise that we’re a force to reckon with.
“Our partnership with Yagden Engineering to capacitate small-scale miners through availing mining equipment will be critical in improving gold production,” said Munzverengwi.
As part of efforts to increase production by its members, the ZMF plans to open three more service centres in different parts of the country.
Munzverengwi said the gold centres would also go a long way in curbing the smuggling of the yellow metal as it would find its way to Fidelity Printers and Refineries.
Effective January 1, 2015, the government declared that Fidelity Printers was the sole buyer of all the gold produced in the country.
The move is also aimed at curbing the smuggling of gold to neighbouring countries such as South Africa depriving the country of potential revenue from the mineral. Of late, the government has recognised the critical role played by small-scale miners in improving output in the mining industry.
As a result, the government has come up with support mechanisms such as the Mining Industry Loan Fund meant to assist small-scale miners with resources to procure mining machinery.
For example, as part of the support mechanism, the government has also directed Peace Mine, which it is using as a pilot project for small-scale miners formalisation, to come up with a proper management structure.
The mine, which is owned by the Silobela Community Development Trust and has over 1,000 artisanal miners, last year increased its gold production from an average of three kilogrammes per month to seven kg per month.
Meanwhile, Yagden Engineering technical director, Wayne Williams, has called on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has the mandate to buy all the gold through Fidelity Printers, to support local manufacturing companies in the mining sector.
“The RBZ is the biggest beneficiary if it comes on board to capacitate local mining manufacturers than wasting resources importing mining equipment from outside the country.
“The equipment that we manufacture is state-of-the-art with high recovery levels and is easy to set up,” he said.
“The central bank should come on board and finance us or even partner us so that we set up service centres”.
Yagden and ZMF are in the process of setting up three gold service centres in Mashonaland East and Central, and the Midlands modelled along the Peace Mine project.