Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
SMALL-scale miners in Gwanda have commended the Government for improved payments for gold deliveries and creating a conducive environment that promotes their growth through increased gold production.
This comes at a time when the country has adopted a decentralised gold marketing model, which has seen Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the country’s sole gold buying unit, opening several gold buying centres across the country.
The mining sector is gaining positive momentum countrywide and in Matabeleland South Province, the gold sector is attracting renewed investment interest.
The growth of the extractive sector is in line with the drive towards attaining Government’s US$12 billion mining milestone by 2023.
Leading mining companies in the province such as Blanket Mine, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) and Duration Gold are already seized with implementation of different expansion projects that involve millions of United States dollars.
These are being complemented by artisanal small-scale mining breakthroughs in different resource districts, which have seen the sub-sector contributing more to formal gold deliveries.
With a gram of gold fetching an average of US$56 against an average of US$53 on the black market in May and the first quarter of June, small-scale miners in Gwanda are confident the country’s US$12 mining economy is attainable if Fidelity Printers and Refiners meet their end of the bargain.
“When the pricing is right, it makes our work easy.
The constant supply of cash also contributes to our production,” said Mr Felix Siziba, a miner from West Nicholson.
“For instance, we may have a breakdown of machinery that needs maintenance, which requires money.
If Fidelity continues on this path, we can do better.”
He said mining was capital intensive and operations were temporarily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which slowed down progress.
With the rise in global commodity price, the sector is now poised for increased growth.
Mr Nqobile Mhlanga, another miner concurred saying through Fidelity, cash flow had improved.
“We were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic but there is now significant progress in terms of production.
We’re supportive of Fidelity because that’s what grows our economy,” said Mr Mhlanga.
However, women in mining believe mining claims in richer areas are being taken up by more men at their expense.
Mthandazo Women Miners Association chairperson, Ms Sithembile Ndlovu, said the claims they operate from were not yielding much although they had the potential to contribute more to the economy.
“We want rich claims where we can realise significant gains.
We also want our families and the country as a whole to prosper.
“We recently pegged at areas that were giving us 50g of gold ore or less yet richer areas are available.
We’re failing to get access to rich mining claims and it would seem men are going ahead of us.
“We don’t know how the men are doing it but they’re getting the claims,” said Ms Ndlovu.
She said various income streams were funding their operations.
“We’ve been getting loans through the Ministry of Women Affairs to fund our operations.
Mthandazo is now sustainable and we have students on attachment coming from universities for procurement because there’s money from investors that needs to be accounted for,” said Ms Ndlovu.
“Some of us did not study accounting but through these students who are doing accounting, we’re able to keep our books in order.”
Ms Ndlovu, who is also the Zimbabwe Miners Federation Matabeleland South Chapter women affairs secretary encouraged more women to join the mining industry.
Mining, livestock production, tourism and irrigation development are key economic activities in Matabeleland South Province and, under the Second Republic, these are being revamped through enhanced collaboration between the Government and the private sector. — @Yolisswa