Government has mobilized US$18 million towards capacitating small scale miners with equipment to boost productivity in the mining sector.
The US$18 million facility will be availed to companies during this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair as the government moves in to professionalize small scale minors to ensure they play a meaningful role in the economic development of the country.
Briefing journalists ahead of the 2017 edition of ZITF, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Mike Bimha said local and financial institutions have raised US$18 million to boost productivity in the mining sector.
“The whole idea is to capacitate local producers which in turn capacitate small scale miners particularly in gold production. Rather than importing this equipment, we rather capacitate local producers, this money is for them to re-equip and be able to produce equipment which will go into the mining industry,” said Bimha.
The facility, which is a joint venture between the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, will be expanded to other cities.
Minister Bimha would not reveal finer details of the facility, but indicated that it was sourced from foreign and local financial institutions to support companies that had potential to produce equipment required by miners.
Bimha said the facility will be launched on Thursday during the course of the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, starting on Tuesday until Saturday
“The facility will be given to, at the moment, three companies, but I do not have their names right, which have the capacity to produce equipment required by the mining industry, particularly for use by small-scale miners,” Minister Bimha said.
“(The funding) was sourced from a number of financial institutions, both local and foreign banks,” the minister said.
He added that the initiative fell in line with Government’s objective of local procurement and a thrust in helping local industry access financing to produce internally
Bimha said Government was looking at the possibility of growing the funding facility to include more companies in Zimbabwe’s former industrial hub of Bulawayo and other distressed companies across the country.
Small-scale miners, especially those in gold extraction, are now an integral part of Zimbabwe’s economic growth accounting for nearly 10 of the 22 tonnes delivered in 2016.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s second biggest foreign currency earner after tobacco.
Despite support from government, including facilities put in place by the central bank, small scale miners still face challenges related to poor equipment.