January 17, 2018

Zimbabwean Government moves to curb gold smuggling

Government in Zimbabwe is introducing a raft of measures including making it mandatory for gold milling plants to install technologies such as computerised weighbridges to consolidate the sector’s output and its contribution to the gross domestic product.

This announcement comes as Government released $10,2 million to manufacturers of gold processing equipment, to install technology at plants across the country where mining activities would be monitored.

Speculation is rife that some gold miners are delivering a few kilogrammes to Fidelity Printers Refiners, while the bulk of their output is being sold to illicit dealers who smuggle it out of the country. Zimbabwe accounts for about 28 tonnes of gold produced annually.

Mines and Mining Development Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, said the $10 million released was part of an $18 million facility announced by Government at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair recently.

In an interview, Minister Chidhakwa said the measures would consolidate efforts that had seen gold output nearly doubling in the past two years.

“We are aware that gold still goes out of the country through improper channels and we are now looking at technologies of monitoring the activities at these gold facilities.

“We want to ensure that we know how much ore goes into the milling plant… I will soon be announcing a programme requiring that all gold milling facilities must have weighbridges.”

The project will be complemented by another programme to establish ore grades in particular areas. Chidhakwa said there would be a centralised facility where the figures would be captured.

The country is estimated to be losing gold worth about $200 million annually through smuggling but significant progress has been made to encourage people to take gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

The country has 280 registered gold milling plants across the country and these are said to handle the bulk of the gold produced.

“I am sure with the measures that we are putting in place we will be able to take full control of the situation as soon as we get hold of the milling plants and these are the major areas where gold is processed,” Chidhakwa added.

The minister said programmes targeted at mechanising artisanal miners would also go a long way in increasing gold output. The mechanisation programme would see milling and processing plants being constructed closer to where they operate.

Violence purported by illicit mining

Minister Chidhakwa expressed his concerns at these reports involving violence with rival gangs. The reports stated that gang members were moving around town with machetes, guns, knobkerries and knives following disturbances at Etna Mine in Kadoma on Thursday that left scores of people injured. Thes eattacks are taking place at night as people fight for control of lucrative mine shafts.

“It’s a sad development but as Government, we warn that we will not allow a few people to threaten the nation’s peace for the love of gold which does not belong to them,” said the minister.

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Ignatius Chombo, said the issue of violence in the mining sector had come to Government’s attention and the ban on such weapons as spears, machetes and knives in public was still effective.

“Any body found with such dangerous weapons will be arrested. We would like to urge artisanal miners or anybody else for that matter to desist from such behaviour,” said Chombo.

He said the country’s national security could not be allowed to deteriorate because of a few individuals.

Minister Chidhakwa added a programme to decongest mining areas had been launched, with the government releasing some of the reserved areas.

Source: The Herald Zimbabwe

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