MUTARE– Chair of the Parliamentary committee on Mines and Minerals Development has called for the introduction of a three tier licensing regime to allow for formalization of artisanal miners, as they are dissuaded by high fees.
Speaking during an oral evidence submission by the Minister of Mines to the committee, Member of Parliament for Shurugwi, Edmund Mukaratigwa said government should consider lessening the burden to artisanal miners.
He suggested a three tier fees structure for large scale operators, small scale and artisanal miners, can bring sanity in the murky but lucrative extractive sector.
“We have large scale miners, even as we have artisanal miners there is also a middle of the road scenario where we have small scale players and we want to see progression so perhaps there may be need to actually incentives in terms of compliance and probably coming up with three tier licensing or fees structure to carter for all,” he said.
In response to these submissions, Minister of Mines Winston Chitando however said currently there is no legal basis for such a structure despite his ministry considering it internally as a viable option to increase formalization of miners into small scale players, to increase deliveries to Fidelity
He said there was no legal room for that structure although he admitted on the prudence of a varied structure which protects interest of small scale players as proactive policy thrust that can build capacity in the gold sector.
“The Ministry came up with some fees increase which we later reversed however it’s important the Ministry be able to charge the requisite fees to enable it to service the needs of the mining sector
“We are looking at coming up with a way forward on this matter. You came up with a good suggestion on a three tier structure which we have already discussed internally as a Ministry but we however at the moment do not have a legal leeway,” said Chitando.
On the Mines and Minerals Amendment bill currently under review, he said this amendment will include a definition of what a small scale miner is, to pave way for a structure that is inclusive.
He said this will form part of a holistic policy and processes review to ensure that the gold sector deliveries to Fidelity Printer and Refineries, the state buyer of gold, rebound to meet the 100 tonne target of production.
“There are two issues which we are working on as a Ministry that we have been working as a ministry to together with finance to improve our policy and increase delivery to and building the required capacity to achieve the targets
“There are large producers that will be coming in to improve the sector, Kuvimba will be doing close to five tonnes. We will be working to evaluate and quantify capacity together with the policy we will reach the target of 100 tonnes target. Fundamentals are all in pace but the valuation is yet to be completed.
“Admittedly we had a reduction of deliveries in 2020 however the capacity which we are working on will increase the gold industry capacity to contribute to the 100 tonnes target set for the gold sector.
“In terms of the amendment there will be a definition of a small scale miner and that will enable us to come up with a structure for small scale miners and come up with an intervention to raise that sector,” said Chitando.
Recent hikes of the fees included for ordinary prospecting licence previously capped at $1 000 and rose to US$100, or $8 300 at the prevailing auction rate. Registration as an approved prospector now costs US$4 000 up from $20 000, with an application for revocation of forfeiture now US$1 000, up from $5 000. Application for a mining lease is now US$2 000, up from $10 000.
Other charges that were increased included application for a special mining lease, which is now pegged at US$5 000, up from $50 000, while an application for protection against forfeiture is now US$100, up from $500.
Minister Chitando also pegged an application for a special grant to mine at US$2 000, up from $10 000 and other increases also includes a custom milling licence of US$2 000, up from $25 000 per year and the fine for operating without custom milling licence now stands at US$5 000, up from $25 000.