RBZ loans out $3 mil­lion to ar­ti­sanal min­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Bianca Mlilo Business Re­porter

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

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