via Govt to reorganise mining sector | The Herald November 1, 2013 by Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
GOVERNMENT intends to reorganise the gold and diamond industry to unlock value in the mining sector and promote the creation of jobs along the value chain, says Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Speaking at an interactive session with policymakers in Harare, the minister said the country was losing revenue and jobs because there was a lot of untapped potential that needed to be unlocked for the country to find its way to economic recovery. He said gold panning would be tackled so that its contribution to the gold output would continue to rise.
“We are going to reorganise the gold industry. We now have more than 10 000 illegal gold panners and if you take their output and pool it together, it amounts a significant figure which could benefit the country but they are being arrested so they do not want to trade their gold openly,” he said.
Last year, President Mugabe set the tone on legalising gold panning saying the law that called for the arrest of panners was unfair. He said they should be arrested only if they tried to smuggle the precious metal out of the country.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development also adopted the idea and called for the amendment of the Mining Act to legalise gold panning. Figures show that of all the gold that is delivered to Treasury, the panners contribute about a third yet they continue to be arrested and chased away.
“So instead of sending them to jail, let us find a way to reorganise them and let them contribute to a reserve that could be used to boost exports and help our balance of trade,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said the diamonds industry also needed to follow the value chain in small stages until the country had the capacity to do value addition and beneficiation on its diamonds.
“At the moment, we are selling most of our diamonds in raw form without even cleaning them but in the near future we will start cleaning our own diamonds before selling them,” he said.
He said cleaning diamonds would expose the real value of the diamonds so that the country gets value for its gems. He said Government was also working on having the cutting and polishing of diamonds done locally.
Stakeholders have been urging Government to prioritise value addition in the mining sector, particularly in the diamond sector. Currently, it is estimated that the country is exporting over 80 percent of its minerals in raw form, prejudicing the country of potential revenue that could be gained through value addition.
“If we clean our own diamonds, we create more jobs for locals and get better value for our gems. Importers want to buy raw diamonds and then create jobs for people back in their countries through value addition. We should do the same,” he said.
It is estimated that more than 60 000 jobs could be created in India alone because of the diamond trade with Zimbabwe as the cutting and polishing of diamonds is one of India’s specialties and has contributed to the growth of the country’s economy.