Small-scale miners say double pegging of claims by the ministry of Mines and Mining Development and high fees are threatening the industry which employs over 500 000.
BY VICTORIA MTOMBA
The sector employs many women and youth.
During a tour by the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy of Tafuna Hills in Shamva, small- scale miners expressed dismay over the way claims were being allocated and pegged.
Tafuna Hills chief Tongai Manzwenzara said there were officials grabbing the gold claims from the small-scale miners claiming that they were the owners.
Councillor for Ward 20, Ernest Manyara confirmed that disputes over double pegging were taking long to be resolved by the Mines and Mining Development ministry.
“We are seeing that people are being allocated the same place by the same office [the Ministry of Mines]. There should be consultations on the issue of pegging,” the councillor said.
Ngoni Pepukai said registration fees for pegging of mines were expensive and the processes took long to be implemented.
“We are in need of assistance, these high unemployment levels that are being witnessed in this country should not be a story for a country like Zimbabwe because the country has vast mineral resources,” he said.
“We are happy and we understand government would be bringing in equipment but without funding, the projects will not go anywhere as small-scale miners do not have money to buy equipment so that they can do work on the claims.”
Pepukai said the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority was demanding a lot of money from the miners, especially in the Mupfurudzi area.
“In Mupfurudzi people have more claims but they are now staying at home as they do not have the US$4 000 that is required by National Parks per annum. We have children and women who are staying at home as they are not allowed to go to Mupfurudzi by Parks officials,” he said.
Canterbury Mining director Bruce Hill said government should come up with universal pricing for milling licences as currently the country has different prices for different places.
“Milling licences for some provinces is US$8 000, for others it’s US$2 000. In some places it’s US$1 000.We need to have the same price for milling licences,” he said.
Environmental Management Authority official Christopher Mushava said concerns by small-scale miners were being looked into.
“We are looking at that and we will have some amendments to our legislation. At EMA we look at different land uses by farmers, miners and other people and we try to accommodate everyone,” Mushava said.
He said EMA would soon embark on outreach programmes to educate members of the public and they would be engaging the ministry of mines and other stakeholders.
Zimbabwe Environment Lawyers Association head of programmes Shamiso Mtisi said the Ministry of Mines was having challenges of double pegging because they do not have the cadastre system to help them allocate claims to individuals.
“Former Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu had all the time in the world to implement the new Mines and Mineral Development policy but the policy has been shuffled between cabinet and the Attorney General’s office. The bill up to now has not been put before Cabinet,” he said.
“The cadastre system can help government and reduce the issues of double pegging. The system can be implemented without the policy in place.”
Mtisi said most of the mining claims were discovered by small-scale miners who were then pushed out by big miners as they did not have the information on the titles, so there was need for public awareness.
He added that government has to protect women in mining as they were facing various challenges and also needed to decentralise the sale of gold as Fidelity is sometimes not readily accessible to small-scale miners.
Women in mining
Chipo Chingozha, a miner in Shamva said the funding challenges were affecting the miners to a large extent as some of their mines were actually forfeited due to failure to operate at the mine.
“We are being charged the same amount as the Chinese.
There should be a difference between a local and a foreigner. Police on the other hand frustrate us, they ask us so many things like helmet, safety shoes and so forth yet we have the licence to mine. So we will resort to corruption so that we can continue to fend for our families,” she said.
Mainah Chimutenga Chimusoro said she had been mining gold for over 20 years on her claim in Shamva. She was surprised to see some people coming with a certificate that had given them authority to mine on her claim.
“I have spent four months without producing anything.
“For the past 22 years that I have been on the mine, I have delivered 200 grammes of gold to Fidelity per month and I employ 150 people. My claim has been allocated to someone else and now I don’t know where the problem is coming from. Is it the mines office which is doing double pegging?” Chimusoro said.
United Women in Mining Association chairperson (Gwanda) Sibongile Sibanda said government should put in place laws that support women in mining as the fees were high and too stringent for small-scale miners.
“We are charged so many taxes and royalties yet we are small miners. Can government come up with one fee structure for small-scale miners,” Sibanda said.
Some small-scale miners said the centralisation of gold buying had created constraints as Fidelity Refineries and Printers does not accept small gold quantities from small-scale miners, which results in them selling the gold to illegal dealers.
Fidelity was designated as the sole gold buyer in the country in January to stop the ban of the export of unrefined gold.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation chief executive officer Wellington Takavarasha said double pegging had caused a number of disputes.
“The Mines and Minerals Act is very clear that a person should not prospect on any mining location that is [ground not open for prospecting].
A small-scale miner would require US$4 000 for registration and a milling licence which cost US$8 000, these are the same charges for big mines.
“There should be a three-tier system on the licences, that is one for artisanal mining registration, small-scale mining registration and big mining operations,” he said.
Takavarasha said there were 30 000 small-scale miners registered according to the Minerals Act. He said there were over 500 000 unregistered artisanal miners.
Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa said the ministry was trying to rectify double pegging and has set up a dispute settlement committee in the ministry.
“When I arrived I was confronted by these issues of double pegging. The disputes that we experience are the overlapping of claims where there is no clear border between two people.
“The second arises when an entire claim is allocated to one person. This creates serious disputes and we have created a dispute resolution committee at our offices because some of the disputes went undecided for a long time,” he said.
Chidhakwa said they were going to replace the old system with a Global Positioning System, a space-based satellite navigation system that provides location and time information in all-weather conditions.