By Anna Chibamu
GOLD deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refineries (Fidelity) by small-scale miners increased by more 1 000kgs in June compared to May deliveries, the Reserve Bank Governor (RBZ) John Mangudya said Monday.
Giving oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate and Tourism, Mangudya said Zimbabwe’s sole buyer and exporter of bullion, reported massive 128% increase in June alone from the small scale miners.
He said the gold deliveries last month were 1 798,8/kg compared to 783/kg in May. He added that government higher deliveries were expected as government was working on registering all artisanal miners.
This, he said, would make it easier for state authorities to monitor the small-scale miners’ and for them to have access government loans.
“Artisanal miners this June produced 1 798.8kg and in May they contributed 783.8kg, an increase of more than one tonne in gold output. This is highly commendable,” he said.
“They must be given resources and the government wants to register all of them so that they can easily be monitored, and we know who they are. Those not registered will not benefit from government loans and will not be allowed to do any mining activities,” Mangudya said.
Ironically, senior Fidelity management last week told the same committee that they were unhappy with the low gold deliveries to the RBZ’s subsidiary and were struggling to come up with measures to curb the rampant smuggling of the mineral of the country due to several operational loopholes.
During Monday’s meeting with Mangudya, the MPs also expressed disappointment on several issues, including child labour in the mining sector and land degradation.
Zanu PF Mberengwa North legislator Tafanana Zhou told Mangudya Zimbabweans were losing confidence in Fidelity’s operations because it was renewing gold-buying licences to criminals who were smuggling the mineral out of the country.
MDC Alliance MP Ruth Labode also asked the RBZ boss if the miners selling gold regularly to the RBZ were being considered to access mortgages in foreign currency.
“Can you tell us governor, have you seen an increase in gold being taken to Fidelity Printers, and have you considered making sure that those who sell gold to Fidelity regularly are considered for United States Dollars (USD) mortgages in the banks because they are not,” querried.
Zanu PF MP Lilian Zemura raised complaints over how artisanal miners were causing land degradation by digging for the precious mineral even in their own backyards, and rivers.
“Have you planned for any remedies to deal with this? We no longer have rivers. The whole country is all gullies. What are you doing to stop all this mess? The rate at which land degradation is taking place cannot continue,” said Zemura.
In response Mangudya said: “Yes, your concerns are acknowledged. We are putting policies that protect both the miners and the environment. On child labour issues, no child has ever delivered gold to Fidelity Printers so far,” he added.