GOVERNMENT should invest more in capacitating semi-precious stone industry operators to ensure they contribute to achieving the $12 billion earnings from mining by 2023, Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) chairman, Mr Makumba Nyenje, has said.
He made the call while giving a keynote address at the two-day ZMF annual general meeting and conference, which ended in Gweru on Thursday. President Emmerson Mnangagwa officially opened the conference.
Mr Nyenje said the semi-precious stones industry has been relegated to the periphery and it was high time Government provided equal support to the sector.
“The semi-precious stone industry was until recently virtually ignored and is in dire need of a structured market place as well as investment. There is need for a proper laid down pricing structure to avoid having miners in the sector being fleeced by fly-by-night investors,” he said.
Mr Nyenje said there was a need for Government to intervene by setting up a pricing structure and marketing of the stones. He also bemoaned downward review of forex retention allowance saying it had impacted negatively on the whole mining sector.
“A review of the forex retention allowances on gold, chrome, and semi-precious stones has had a negative impact on the mining sector.
“As a result of the current policies, fold packages have dramatically increased, chrome miners have limited access to international markets and are experiencing predatory pricing regime in the domestic market, which has created huge problems for the sector,” he said.
Mr Nyenje challenged the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to speed up the implementation of the Mines and Minerals Bill, which he said was key to the growth of the mining industry.
“As we implement strategies to drive the formalisation process, we noted that our Mines and Minerals Act is inadequate in addressing the challenges faced by our mining sector both in regards to the path to formalisation as well as the facilitator of growth in indigenous small scale operations. Via our enhanced Government and mining industry engagement, we seek to eliminate the gaps, which previously occurred with regards to industry policies,” said Mr Nyenje.
He said ZMF had stepped up efforts to access operational funding from Government.
“In our efforts to source operations funding from our Government we noted that it will require an Act of Parliament in order to be added directly to the national budget. In the interim we are working directly with our parent ministry and we have made a formal request to be added to their budgets to support our joint formalisation initiatives,” he said.