New policy aims to harness artisanal and small-scale miners into mainstream economy 

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By Thobekile Khumalo

THE Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) has crafted an artisanal and small scale miners’ model policy to help alleviate challenges faced by the sector and to boost its contribution to the country’s economy.

Artisanal and small scale miners contribute over 60 percent of gold to Fidelity Gold Refineries.
ZELA mining engineer, Tatenda Mapooze said the policy helps reduce operational setbacks faced by the sector.
“(The) artisanal and small scale mining sector in Zimbabwe contribute around 60 percent of gold to Zimbabwe through Fidelity Gold Refineries owing to their importance. However, there are a lot of challenges faced by the sector in the country that have to be dealt with in order to provide smooth operations,” he said.
“As ZELA we have come up with a model policy that helps address and alleviate these challenges faced by artisanal and small scale miners across the country.”
Mapooze said social economic developments that come from the mining activities by artisanal and small scale miners are met by a lot of challenges, which include restricted access to mining space, poor safety, health and environmental practices, child labour, poor access to capital, limited use of equipment and high rates of conflict, rampant occupational accidents, amongst others.
“Poor coordination amongst government institutions, corruption and lack of value addition also add to challenges faced by the sector,” he said.
Mapooze said the model policy seeks to transform the sector for the better.
“This policy is to promote organisations in the artisanal and small scale mining sector by improving governance, promote sustainability, suitability and profitability and also promote responsibility amongst artisanal and small scale miners to have environmental protection, health and safety, and social development in order to transform,” he said.
“The policy also looks at creating employment and making sure that the sector contributes to the nation’s economy through payment of taxes. Also, occupational and health standards, promote implementation of environmental impact assessments.”
He said that it is important to make sure of the availability of mining titles and other information, promoting access to finance and other support services promote responsible sourcing.
The policy also looks into gender issues.
“There are gender issues also affecting the artisinal and small scale mining sector. You find that a lot of women are trying to join the sector, but by looking at statistics you find that up to now only a few women participate due to hindrances, some of them fail to access claims, lot of stigmatisation and abuse so the policy is trying to address some of these issues including child labour policy that is prohibited in the artisanal and small scale mining sector,” he said.
“Artisanal and small scale mining sector contributes to value change due to a lot devegetation that comes with trial and error due to environmental degradation.
“This degradation results in increase in carbon emissions and also improper tendency of waste management strategies these result in a lot of erosion and siltation of rivers that affect climate change.
“The modern policy talks of responsible sourcing, also safety health and the environment.”
The policy also attempts to address issues to do with pricing and administration were it mentions application policies, the authority should grant permits and the duration of mining permits.
“There is a lot of support needed by artisanal miners, it suggests that the provincial mining offices should have the adequate special personnel like geologists, engineers and surveyors to help small scale miners in their operations.
“It also talks of the the role of Rural District Councils (RDC) when in need of disaster responsive committees and solutions that increase effectiveness in small scale miners.
He said the model policy requires miners to advertise their minerals through formal channels according to requirements in Zimbabwe.
“The model policy addresses the issues of transparency, miners should give profile of financial reports and submit the production statistics and contracts signed.
“The policy also emphasises the need for proper safety considerations and need for budgeting for closure and rehabilitation purposes.”