By Thomas Mupfuka
The government will meet gold producers at various buying centres so as to ascertain why a significant number of small-scale producers continue to sidestep Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) and smuggling the yellow metal into neighbouring countries.
The gatherings will provide an opportunity for officials to increase the visibility of the Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF), which was launched in 2016 to assist small-scale miners with funds to purchase mining equipment.
Mathew Chidavaenzi, the head of the GDIF, told standardbusiness that ZW$130 million out of the ZW$150 million from the fund had been disbursed to miners by end of last month.
He said the Finance ministry had since increased the purse to ZW$200 million.
“We have so far disbursed over ZWL$130 million and can confirm to you that the amount is now $200 million. This is expected to assist our small-scale-miners in
acquiring the much-needed machinery.
“We shall also conduct training programmes with gold producers starting next month, in conjunction with the Zimbabwe School of Mines to offer a seven-day free
course on the fundamentals of mining.
“This will assist in them being able to manage these funds properly.”
However, officials said some miners who secured funds when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) maintained the rate between the local currency and United States dollar at 1:1 had bought equipment from China, which was yet to be delivered.
Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, RBZ, FPR and Office of the President and
Cabinet (OPC) will form part of the teams that will engage gold producers.
They are expected to visit Gwanda, Mberengwa, Kwekwe, Kadoma and Chinhoyi.
“The objectives of these conferences are also meant to provide a platform to increase the visibility of the fund.
“To offer an opportunity to gold miners to engage with keystakeholders in the mining sector. And to offer an opportunity for building mutual relationships
between FPR and its clients through information sharing,” read part of a document setting out the objectives of the conferences.
However, the Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) said the conferences would not achieve anything as current policies were discouraging miners from taking their
gold to FPR.
“We have met numerous times with government officials, and our message is always the same,” said a ZMF executive member who requested anonymity.
“As long as the RBZ maintains the 55% forex retention threshold, gold deliveries will not improve any time soon as some miners are getting better returns than
what is being offered by Fidelity.”
Industry experts say more than 50 tonnes of gold was smuggled to South Africa last year, resulting in close to $2 billion being lost in potential export
Gold deliveries in the first six months of 2019 went down by 20% to 10,8 tonnes from more than 14 tonnes delivered during the same period last year.