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Formalizing Artisanal Mining Projected to Curb Illicit Flows

MUTARE– Parliament of Zimbabwe says pushing for the formalization of artisanal miners through legal amendments will curb illicit flows of minerals, particularly gold, out of the country.

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda says if the law recognizes artisanal miners formally, it will not only curb illicit financial flows but significantly boost their production which has been on the decline.

Mudenda was speaking at the recently ended review of mining policies by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines, said even the Gold Trade Act must also be amended to decriminalize possession of bullion.

He said formalization will safeguard the contribution of the sector to the fiscus, increase gold reserves for the country and also ensure protection of the millions of Zimbabweans who are reliant on the sector for livelihood.

“Gold Trade Act must also be looked at, no doubt that small scale miners are making a significant contribution to the economy, in 2017 it accounted for 53% but this has gone down, we have to recover that status by coming up with proposals to ensure that they continue to make that significant contribution to gold deliveries.

“We need substantial reserves of gold in the RBZ, to get these the leakages must be plugged so that gold goes where it must to strengthen our currency.

“This sector provides livelihood for a million people, we must amend the Gold Trade Act to ensure those sections that criminalize the possession of gold and in turn disempower the small scale miners this has been one major cause of leakages in the mining industry,” said Mudenda.

Mudenda said given the precarious nature of artisanal mining, there was need to protect miners, perishing in mining related accidents, through formalization which will entail adoption of standard operating procedures.

He said a Fund envisaged under the proposed Mines and Minerals Act must be expedited to ensure that occupational health and safety of indigenous miners is guaranteed, through a Health Fund proposed in the bill.

“There is need to formalize all artisanal and small scale miners so that they practice beneficial mining practices, they need to be assisted to follow proper mining methodology.

“We have lost many artisanal, miners through unsafe mining practices and conditions, the safety and Health Fund envisaged under the mines and Minerals should go a long way in ameliorating the challenges faced by these miners,” said Mudenda.

Minister of Mines and Mineral Development, Winston Chitando said amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act are at an advanced stage with the office of the Attorney General addressing reservations of the President.

Chitando also revealed that once the mines law is finalized, focus will shift towards addressing policies and amendments of other Acts which affect mining business, under an orderly mining concept.

“The amendments are around the corner, recently the AG spent the whole week working on the amendments, and they need another session or two to finalize those amendments.

“Amendments to the Gold Trade Act, Precious Stones Act and the Mines and Minerals development policies, we have the principles of these acts but there is no way we can push these until we have concluded the Mines Acts.

“As soon as amendments are conclude we will be able to finalize those three issue all of which have drafts in place,” said Chitando.

He added, “We are also coming with an orderly mining concept which complies with immigration laws, labour laws. We need to ensure that there is enforcement of all requirements in terms of operation of mines, compliance with environment.”

Deputy Attorney General Nelson Dias said the process of amending the Mines and Mineral Act has been slowed down due to constitutional compliance and alignment as the proposed bill was turned down by the President.

He said the coming act will also give power to the Provincial Mines Director to settle disputes, while Rural District Councils will be awarded powers for communal registration and custodianship of land.

“We have come up with a solution where Rural District Councils register land for pasture on behalf of the communities. This is part of the solution for this farmer mining conflict which is now with the Ministry of Mines, they will reveal this when the act is finalized.

“Dispute settlement and civil penalty regime, the act is very deficient on administrative judgment to guide the Provincial Mining Directors in terms of how to manage conflict and adjudicate on conflict, we have aligned this to the constitution.

“PMD will be granted power of enforcing environmental obligations, compliance with mining title or license, removing the criminal obligation to civil crimes as some case taken as criminal could be better resolved through civil means,” said Dias.

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