Govt re­pos­sesses 5 000 min­ing claims, 50 000 lose jobs Min­ers fail to re­mit tax Re­ject $20m loan terms

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Oliver Kazunga/Bianca Mlilo

MORE than 5 000 small-scale gold min­ing claims in Mata­bele­land North and South prov­inces have been for­feited to the State after claim hold­ers failed to re­mit tax.

Small scale min­ers are re­quired to pay a $100 levy to the State an­nu­ally. The Zim­babwe Min­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion (ZMF) first vice pres­i­dent, Mr Ish­mael Kaguru, told Busi­ness Chron­i­cle yes­ter­day that their mem­bers were fail­ing to pay the levy as they were “bur­dened” with mul­ti­ple tax obli­ga­tions to var­i­ous Govern­ment de­part­ments.

“Ac­cord­ing to our records, 5 267 gold min­ing claims in Mata­bele­land North and South prov­inces have been for­feited to the State. As a re­sult, more than 50 000 peo­ple in Mata­bele­land are out of em­ploy­ment.

“We’re still in the process of com­pil­ing a na­tional re­port to es­tab­lish the to­tal num­ber of claims that have been re­pos­sessed,” he said adding that ZMF was en­gag­ing the Govern­ment to make pay­ment plans.

“It’s not that our mem­bers don’t want to pay the re­quired levies to the Govern­ment but at the mo­ment they are bur­dened with a mul­ti­plic­ity of taxes which they also have to pay to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and the En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Agency among oth­ers.

“The taxes are just ex­or­bi­tant to the small-scale min­ers. As small-scale min­ers, we’re tar­get­ing to pro­duce 10 tonnes of gold this year, but with this for­fei­ture, how do we then ma­noeu­vre to achieve the set tar­get?”

In 2012, the Govern­ment im­posed a levy hike, which saw some fees in­creas­ing as­tro­nom­i­cally mak­ing Zim­babwe one of the most ex­pen­sive coun­tries to mine.

Last year, the small-scale min­ing sec­tor pro­duced seven tonnes of the yel­low me­tal up from three tonnes in 2014.

Since the be­gin­ning of the year to date, small-scale min­ers have de­liv­ered about 6,5 tonnes of the yel­low me­tal to Fidelity Print­ers and Re­fin­ers. In the past, the small-scale min­ers through ZMF have ex­pressed con­cern over the mul­ti­ple taxes they were be­ing charged and urged the Govern­ment to ad­dress the mat­ter so that they boost gold pro­duc­tion.

Mean­while, min­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive bod­ies say they are en­gag­ing the Govern­ment and fi­nancers to con­sider tak­ing min­ing claims as col­lat­eral for loans taken un­der the $20 mil­lion loan fa­cil­ity for small scale min­ers.

The pack­age was un­veiled by the Re­serve Bank of Zim­babwe and Fidelity Print­ers Re­finer­ies (FPR) in Bu­l­awayo last week. How­ever, min­ers say the con­di­tions for ac­cess­ing the loan fa­cil­ity are strin­gent and dis­qual­ify many from ac­cess­ing the fa­cil­ity.

The fa­cil­ity re­quires small scale min­ers to pro­duce col­lat­eral of at least one and a half times the loan value, which will at­tract an in­ter­est rate of 10 per­cent.

For min­ers who re­quire a loan of $15 000 and be­low, col­lat­eral should be in form of mov­able prop­erty like live­stock and ve­hi­cles while for any­thing above the amount, min­ers will re­quire col­lat­eral in the form of mort­gage bonds. This has raised con­cerns within the ar­ti­sanal min­ing sec­tor, with the small scale min­ers feel­ing ex­cluded from the scheme amid fear that the funds might end up in the hands of large and well es­tab­lished min­ers.

Zim­babwe Ar­ti­sanal & Small Scale for Sus­tain­able Min­ing Coun­cil (ZASMC) pres­i­dent En­gi­neer Chris Murove yes­ter­day said the list of re­quire­ments do not meet cir­cum­stances of min­ers.

“Most of th­ese small scale min­ers do not have se­cu­rity; all they have are their gold claims. It would be good if the au­thor­i­ties could con­sider th­ese claims as se­cu­rity, in­clud­ing the equip­ment they would have spon­sored,” said En­gi­neer Murove.

“The rea­son for this type of se­cu­rity pri­mar­ily is to en­sure that the loan re­cip­i­ent pays; so be­cause that’s all they have, they will pay.”

Zim­babwe Min­ers Fed­er­a­tion (ZMF) chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mr Welling­ton Takavarasha said to this ef­fect, they would en­gage the apex bank and FPR in a round­table meet­ing to iron out th­ese is­sues.

“Govern­ment wants to meet the 10 tonne-tar­get set for small scale min­ers and is com­mit­ted to make this hap­pen. We’re push­ing for the ap­proval of the fa­cil­ity for de­serv­ing projects,” he said.

Mr Takavarasha said ZMF, as an arm of the Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment, had as­sem­bled a group of tech­ni­cal per­son­nel to as­sess the value of min­er­als in the claims that ar­ti­sanal min­ers hold.

The team, made up of ge­ol­o­gists, met­al­lur­gists and en­gi­neers, will re­port back to the Min­istry of Mines.

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