Integrating the gender perspective in the mining industry is pertinent as the World scramble for mineral resources in the Global South intensifies, with globalization under threat, Zimbabwe pins its hope on its vast mineral base.
By Hillary Munedzi
Africa is at the cusp of another economic catastrophe from losing investment opportunities mostly from manufacturing firms which are moving their factories back home sighting supply chain disruptions caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and the Global economic crisis triggered by the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in 2020
This has intensified the risk of declining trade integration between countries triggering food and fuel price inflation and the continent is facing persistent drought due to climate change.
A deglobalized world poses a serious threat for Africa according to the latest World bank report and this will likely push an additional 52 million people in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa, women and children are the worst affected
Despite the economic turbulent prevalent on the continent, mining investors and Governments are gravitating towards the continent to ensure their companies can procure enough metals to feed an accelerating net-zero push.
Western sanctions on Russia over its foray of Ukraine are driving metal supply chains to reconfigure along geopolitical lines increasing the risk appetite for major miners towards Africa leaving few alternatives on the table as demand outstrips supply.
Decarbonisation of energy and transport, to meet global net zero ambitions, requires substantial amounts of the raw materials used to manufacture batteries and other green technologies.
Battery prices are expected to rise slightly this year ending a long run of declines according to Bloomberg NEF.
Women in mining communities turn to suffer economic inequalities in relation to accessing the benefits of extractive projects, while excessively bearing the cost as they turn to suffer more than men in losing their livelihood as mining investors look towards the Global South for mining concessions.
Women in mining communities are likely to be subject to sexual violence and rape than other women with the latter accounting for 30% of the global artisanal small-scale mining (ASM) reaching 50% in Africa.
African communities must treat the symptoms, instead of tackling the causes like patriarchy, structural inequality, and subordination.
Given the scarcity of alternatives means of income, legislation and policies aimed at protecting women in mining communities must take center stage as they reinforce the male-dominated nature of the extractive industry.
Tackling the causes of gender inequality in mining economies, Western States imposed commodity sanctions which have resulted in extractive companies turning to safer sources of origin, such as Asia.
The Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains OECD has the mandate to track illicit flows in the mining industry.
The decline in production not only affects local miners but also several small businesses in mining areas. Although women are not a mainstream in the mining industry, many hinge on the demand of services connected to the industry. The side effects of these policies have been raising joblessness and poverty, including among women.
The call for mineral beneficiation and value addition have been echoed by African leaders and incorporating the gender perspective will be essential in creating jobs for women in the extractive sector.
The mining sector in Zimbabwe has remained very resilient despite a myriad of obstacles characterized by liquidity challenges, economic uncertainty, policy inconsistency, rising inflation and lack of investment appetite.
Zimbabwe’s mining economy could reach the $12 billion mark faster than anticipated, with volatility of the global economy buoying the price of gold as investors seek safe havens for their investment.
“Unfortunately, the high price advantages would be off-set by some high input costs in the mining industry especially related to fuel and explosives.
The US$12 billion is a monetary number which is not supported by specific increases in production volume. When the number was coined, there wasn’t any anticipation of such price increases which are now prevalent.
This environment where some commodity prices are quite high like Nickel, Palladium and gold accelerates a quicker attainment of the US$12 billion mining economy by 2023,”said Mr. Thomas Gono CEO of Golden Reef Mining Company.
Africa is endowed with vast amounts of minerals and there is need for mineral beneficiation and value addition to create employment for the youths and young women of the continent.
For the core reason of our cries is resource beneficiation and value addition of our minerals in line with the Government devolution agenda and National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).