Courtney Matende, Midlands Reporter
SMALL-scale miners say they are optimistic about producing the targeted 40 tonnes of gold this year on the back of improved electricity supply and incentives from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) chairman, Mr Makumba Nyenje said electricity supply to the miners had improved by Tuesday and they expected to recover from downtime which they experienced due to long hours of load shedding.
He said production had taken a significant knock due to load shedding.
“For the last two to three months, we have been quite affected by heavy load shedding but it seems electricity supply to the gold milling centres has improved. Today (Wednesday) from morning we have electricity and we remain optimistic that if the situation remains like this we can cover up for the lost time by increasing production,” said Mr Nyenje.
He said small scale miners hope that electricity supply will continue to improve towards the end of the year so that they can comfortably reach output targets for the yellow metal .
Government on Tuesday said it had concluded a deal with South Africa’s Eskom to unlock the supply of 400MW meant to ease the load shedding.
Turning, to fuel, Mr Nyenje said small-scale miners have not been largely affected by the recent upward adjustments in fuel prices as they are cushioned by the 55 percent forex retention facility from the Central Bank.
“In gold production sector, RBZ allowed us to keep getting 55 percent forex retention, 45percent is banked in RTGS multiplied to the prevailing bank rate when money is disposed. All we need is availability of fuel,” he said.
He said the deal between the ZMF and Glow Petroleum had also enabled small-scale miners get fuel frequently.
“We found a major player where Glow Petroleum supplies fuel to small-scale miners with an allocation of one million litres of fuel per month to small-scale miners across the whole nation,” he said.
Mr Nyenje said the only problem is that some places were located far away from the Glow Petroleum Service Stations.
“The only challenge is that some places do not have Glow Petroleum fuel stations but arrangements have been made that miners contribute in groups to buy fuel in bulk and it can be delivered to a place where it is more convenient for them and they share the fuel accordingly,” he said.
Mr Nyenje said incentives by the Government through the central bank targeting small-scale miners had significantly capacitated them to remain productive and optimistic of meeting gold output target.
“The Government set a target of 40 tonnes of gold this year through Fidelity Printers and Refiners. As gold miners, we are still optimistic to achieve more than last year’s target because there are some aspects that have been put in place by especially Fidelity Printers which has availed more funds to small-scale miners from US$150 million to US$200 million so that we contribute significantly towards building of our national reserves,” he said.