Relief for Bubi small-scale miners

HARARE - Small-scale miners — popularly known as makorokoza — in Bubi District, Matabeleland South Province, have been exempted from paying customs and excise tax in a bid to ensure viability.

According to a government gazette published last Friday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa (pictured) announced that Bubi Small Scale Miners Association (BSSMA) will be exempted from paying duty from February 16 this year to February 5, 2020.

This comes on the back of various proposed changes to the country’s mining laws, which support the small-scale miners, now seen as key contributors to national mineral output.

“The Customs and Excise (Suspension) regulations, 2003, published in Statutory Instrument 257 of 2003, are amended by the insertion of the following in the Second Schedule . . . (name of mining company) Bubi Small Scale Miners Association . . . mining location numbers 11392B.M, 11399B.M, specified mining period 16th February, 2017 to 5th February 2020,” reads the government gazette.

BSSMA has over 300 members who operate in the mineral rich district where geological surveys have shown kimberlite pipes of diamonds, limestone, gold and nickel.

It is hoped the move will assist the miners, many of whom use menial and labour-intensive tools.

However, despite their inadequacies, Fidelity Printers and Refiners has indicated that small-scale gold miners outperformed large-scale operations in the last quarter of 2016.

The small mining outfits were said to have produced 3,163 tonnes of gold in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 2,958 tonnes produced by large mining operations.

Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) spokesperson Dosman Mangisi said he is confident the exemption will go a long way in boosting production in the mining sector, a key foreign exchange earner in the country.

“We are very excited about this and to us it’s actually an incentive. The move will definitely improve gold production in the country,” said Mangisi, whose association estimates that small-scale mines control up to 65 percent of active gold deposits in the country.

“It will also assist chrome production where there is need for earth moving equipment. It’s a positive to the contributions of the mining operations and also erodes the barriers in importing equipment.”

The incentive comes after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently doubled its small-scale gold support facility from $20 to $40 million to help the sector reach the 28-tonne target for 2017.

Other improvements made to support small-scale miners, including the recently introduced three percent scheme for small scale miners who decide to be paid in bond notes.

The cash incentive was announced last month by  Fidelity Printers and Refiners and is an addition to the five percent export incentive.

The Finance ministry has projected that gold deliveries will reach 25 tonnes this year from 18 tonnes in the same period last year on the back of increased small scale sector production.

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