Vice President Chiwenga opens Bubi Gold Centre

VICE President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday officially opened the country’s first gold service centre in Bubi district, Matabeleland North.

The centre is set to create 1 600 jobs for the local community and increase the country’s gold reserves to 100 tonnes within the next five years.

VP Chiwenga said the opening of Bubi Gold Service Centre was a reflection of the Government’s commitment to empowering small scale miners through people oriented and private sector centred policies.

“The setting up of this model service centre in Bubi will create 1 600 jobs for the local community and it will be replicated countrywide in line with our vision. Interest in the mining sector has steadily increased during the past years. Small scale mining in Zimbabwe has become an area of focus for Government as annual gold deliveries from this sub sector to Fidelity Printers and Refineries has been recurrently increasing from a mere 959kg to a staggering 13 176kg in 2017,” he said.

VP Chiwenga said the Government is aware of the important role played by small scale miners in terms of gold production hence the establishment of the $100 million Mining Industry Loan Fund (MILF) to support small to medium scale miners with equipment and plant.

The equipment is aimed at building the capacity of small-scale gold miners to increase gold output from the sector, which contributed 53 percent of the country’s output last year.

VP Chiwenga said the capacitation of artisanal miners will help in changing their livelihoods and increasing productivity in the gold sector.

This comes as the Reserve Bank is planning to set aside $75 million to buy gold from small scale miners to ensure all bullion is sold in Zimbabwe.

Gold is Zimbabwe’s single biggest mineral foreign currency earner while the mining sector generates over half of the country’s export earnings.

VP Chiwenga said the MILF, which is administered by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, is key to the mechanisation of the small scale mining sector. “It has traditionally been availing mining equipment to small scale miners through a model called ‘plant and equipment lease to buy scheme’ and in this model, the fund makes available to the target group, company, miner, plant and equipment under a three year lease to buy scheme,” he said.

VP Chiwenga said the small scale mining sector, if given sufficient support, can play a pivotal role in improving the livelihoods of mining communities and generate revenue for the country. He said the long term strategies to support the mining sector hinge on capacitating small scale miners so that they operate more efficiently and benefit immensely from economies of scale.

“It is against this background that the new dispensation, through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, mooted the idea of establishing mining service centres across the country to complement MILF,” he said.

The service centres will be one stop centres providing an assortment of services such as the hiring of equipment at affordable rates, technical support services, processing and buying of minerals produced by small sale miners at fair prices. VP Chiwenga said the launch of the Bubi Gold Service Centre is in pursuit of the Government’s dream of an effective, viable and efficient small scale mining sector that operates within the framework of international best practices and sustainable development.

He said the Government would this year launch five more service centres in other mining districts in various provinces.

VP Chiwenga commended the Bubi Small Scale Miners Association and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) for their collaborative efforts in driving the Government’s initiative to set up the Bubi Gold Service Centre. The Vice-President said the Bubi Gold Service Centre would ensure the yellow metal from small-scale and artisanal miners is sold through formal channels and realise optimum returns from their ore.

ZMDC facilitated a loan of $3,5 million from Fidelity Printers and Refineries for the purchase of machinery and various mining consumables for use at the Bubi Gold Service Centre. The loan facility is expected to be repayable over a period of three years with a three-month grace period.

VP Chiwenga said the programme would result in increased revenue inflows into the fiscus as minerals produced will be marketed through the service centres.

He said Zimbabwe is open for business and urged investors to venture into various untapped business opportunities in the country. “This growth should translate into improved livelihoods and meaningful participation of Zimbabweans through hard work in our resource management. This is one of the key cornerstones towards the attainment of Vision 2030 which seeks to transform Zimbabwe into a middle income economy,” said VP Chiwenga.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa is set for a resounding victory in next Monday’s elections, as he has been endorsed by a cross section of the country’s society, Vice President Chiwenga has said.

VP Chiwenga said this while addressing thousands of Zanu-PF supporters at Kingsdale in Norton yesterday.

He said the ruling party had a clear development agenda that would uplift the people’s livelihoods.

“We are left with seven days before we go to vote and after July 30, President Mnangagwa will be in office because he has been annointed by the heavens and was elected by our party, Zanu-PF,” said VP Chiwenga.

“He was accepted by a cross section of our society and that includes chiefs, churches, the business community, war veterans, the youths and the students.”

VP Chiwenga said Zimbabwe was endowed with vast natural resources and minerals that would spur the growth of the economy. “Zimbabwe has vast amounts of natural resources, including over 40 types of minerals that we should use for our development,” he said. “All that we need is unity and peace to achieve that development.”

VP Chiwenga said Government was aware of the people’s concerns and would address them. “We know you have many problems ranging from jobs, accommodation, roads and provision of clean water and sanitation,” he said.

“These issues are at the heart of the programmes of the Government under the new dispensation and we have tasked the Ministry of Local Government to come up with comprehensive master plans for each city so that they are modernised.”

VP Chiwenga said the over $20 billion in investment commitments that the country had received would also address job creation through the opening of new factories.

“This coming week, we will be opening the Karo Platinum Mine that will see a lot of people from Norton and other surrounding areas getting employment,” he said.

“There are other infrastructure programmes that will also benefit a lot of youths.”

VP Chiwenga said Government had opened two banks to enable youths and women access cheap loans for their projects. He hit out at land barons in Norton that he said had fleeced people of over $5 million. - Chronicle