The announcement by Deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo at a recent meeting of small scale miners from across the province, has since raised fears that government may extend to the struggling sector provisions of the Community Share Ownership Trust scheme that currently targets only big mines.
The scheme forced big mining companies to contribute funds worth millions of dollars to develop local communities – but hardly any tangible projects are evident on the ground, amid revelations the contributions were abused.
Unki Mine (Shurugwi) Zimplats (Mashonaland West) Murowa Diamonds (Zvishavane) Freda Rebecca (Mashonaland Central) , Marange, Anjin and Mbada Diamonds of Mutare pledged a combined $50 million for the scheme.
In Umguza, Matabeleland North, Pretoria Portland Cement released $1 million while Hwange Colliery Company Limited, Makomo Resources, Chibondo Mines, South Mining had each donated $600 000, with Hwange Coal Gasification coming in with $500 000.
“We want the small scale miners to make some meaningful contributions towards development of the places they operate from. The small miners should be guided to make sure that they leave marks in areas they will have exploited minerals from,” said Moyo.
He also emphasized that government was aware of the fact that the small miners are making a lot of money in their operations and so “the benefits accrued by small scale miners should also benefit communities around them.”
“We are already crying out because the government taxes us three percent of every half a kilogramme of gold one small miner makes. That translates to a lot of money but still they are not satisfied and want more from us when we are not even seeing where the taxes go and how they are used,” said one gold miner from Kwekwe.
Another small scale miner specializing in chrome said: “We need government support like subsidies as happens in other countries. We also need machinery and other equipment but we do not get such support. It’s sad that after we toil from our own efforts, the government now says we should contribute more money when its clear such funds go into the hands of a few and never develop the communities.”
Other miners who also spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that the Government should not be hasty in trying to benefit from the sweat of small players before even levelling the field they operate in.
“At present we have problems in buying and storing explosives because the laws are too tight on that. These are some of the challenges government should address before speaking of ways of getting more money from us,” said a gold miner from Shurugwi.
Late last year, Moyo said small scale infant miners contributed 60 percent of gold output in the extractive sector.Post published in: News