RBZ loans out $3 million to artisanal miners
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has loaned out $3 million of the $20 million funding package it set aside for the sector recently.
The package was availed by the RBZ through Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) with the purpose of assisting artisanal miners to expand their operations through buying mining equipment so as to increase output.
Central bank Governor Dr John Mangudya told representatives of mining associations at a roundtable discussion in Bulawayo on Saturday to pay back loans as he condemned the culture of defaulting.
“On the $20 million that we made available to the gold producers, so far $3 million has been loaned out, so we still have a balance of $17 million,” said Dr Mangudya.
“But payment is critical, what we do not want is that we provide funding and you do not pay. And when we fund you, please bring the gold.”
Miners have, however, raised concerns that the conditions for accessing the loan facility were stringent and disqualify many from accessing the facility.
Under the facility, small-scale miners are required 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 the form of movable property like livestock and vehicles while for anything above the amount, miners will require collateral in the form of mortgage bonds.
On the issue of accepting equipment and claims as security, Dr Mangudya said that was covered by the notarial general covering bond and the central bank agreed with the miners on that issue.
Over the past two months, Dr Mangudya added, people who have been smuggling gold have laid down their guns because of the announcement of the five percent export incentive.
He said some people were smuggling about 500 grammes of gold a month.
On the issue of decriminalisation of gold possession, he said:
“We are talking to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), that they don’t arrest people found in possession of gold, but instead, allow them to take it to FPR.
“I know there is a Gold Trade Act but we cannot be prisoners of a policy, of an Act. The Act (Gold Trade) is now supposed to be changed slightly so it can accommodate the new developments.”
He said they would, however, not hesitate to arrest people who try to smuggle gold out of the country.
The Government has set a target of 10 tonnes set for small-scale miners this year. They have since delivered about 6,5 tonnes of the precious metal to FPR. - @ BiancaMlilo