Zimbabwe to formally register artisanal miners

Zimbabwe has announced plans to formally register artisanal miners in bid to curb gold smuggling and protect the environment.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor John Mangudya revealed the plans and noted that it is estimated that there are between 500,000 and 1.5 million artisanal and small-scale miners in Zimbabwe, and only 16% of them are formally registered.

Under the new registration system, the miners’ biometric details would be captured and the miner would be issued with a registration number. In 2020 gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a gold buying subsidiary of the RBZ, declined by 31% to 19.052 tonnes due to many reasons including smuggling and less production by miners. In 2019 Fidelity took delivery of 27.66 tonnes, and that was a fall from the 33.2 tonnes delivered in 2018.

Zimbabwe’s mining industry

Zimbabwe’s mining industry is focused on a diverse range of small to medium mining operations. The most important minerals produced by Zimbabwe include gold, asbestos, chromite, coal and base metals. The mining industry contributes approximately 8% towards the country’s GDP.

Gold is one of the major contributors in the country. However, the smuggling of gold remains a major challenge, and authorities estimate that between 30 and 35 tonnes of gold are being smuggled each year. The country has recorded huge losses through gold smuggling into neighbouring South Africa and nearby Dubai.

The recent case of Zimbabwe Miners Federation president Henrietta Rushwaya demonstrates the government’s dealings in promoting illicit financial flows and smuggling of gold outside the country, says Christopher Komberai, a small-scale miner in Shamva. Rushwaya was arrested at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on charges of attempting to smuggle 6kg of gold to Dubai.

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