THE Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) is assisting artisanal small-scale miners in Zimbabwe to acquire mining claims as a key step towards formalising their operations.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
CNRG is a non-governmental organisation working to improve natural resources governance in Zimbabwe.
“The law doesn’t talk of artisanal mining, so whenever there is talk of artisanal mining, there are running battles. Our project is, therefore, meant to help these people to be formalised. “We are also targeting the policymakers so that they can come up with a progressive piece of legislation and do away with the 1961 colonial legislation so that these people can be able to work just like a teacher, driver or a nurse, so that they can feed their families without the criminality stigma stuck on them.” CNRG director Farai Maguwu said.
A research conducted by CNRG showed that the number of artisanal miners in Zimbabwe was rising every year and with industries closing, this meant the informal market was growing in the country.
Maguwu said CNRG had been working with artisanal small-scale miners in Penhalonga and had allocated $30 000 for these projects, money that would be used for mobilisation, prospecting, licensing, and purchasing of equipment for 50 people.
“We are also trying to lead the way by helping them to register mining co-operatives. We have already done that with Penhalonga where we have five co-operatives which are composed of 10 people per group,” he said.
“We first identified the artisanal small-scale miners, then we did the prospecting after which we paid for the mining licences for them. They have already identified the claims and have applied for mining licences. I think by January we should be able to get their mining certificates and we are going to assist them to buy the mining equipment and monitor how they are going to make investments,” he added.
Maguwu said after completing the project in Penhalonga CNRG was going to Bindura where they would identify and assist five mining groups which would be registered to operate legally.
An artisanal miner from Penhalonga, Tsverukai Duwa, said small-scale miners were facing challenges that included harassment by police, health hazards, lack of skills and lack of tools and machinery.
“We are also facing challenges of disease outbreaks, especially because we live and prepare meals in the same place that we do the mining,” she said.
She said CNRG was assisting them to get mining claims and training on basic mining knowledge.
A small-scale miner from Muzarabani, Kwayedza Mafunga, said the other challenge they faced was lack of sanitation facilities.
He appealed to government to address the issue of speculative mining claims which were being held by foreign companies, where they held claims in most of the mining areas.
“We appeal for government to release some of the claims and sell to us the people in the communities so that we can mine legally,” Mafunga said.