15th March 2023 Zimbabwe
By Staff Reporter
ARTISANAL miners have written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa requesting a six-month suspension of government’s ban on the export of base minerals.
The request is mainly for lithium.
According to the letter signed by Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) President Henrietta Rushwaya, copied to Mines Minister Winston Chitando, the ban has significantly affected small scale miners.
The federation argues that some of their investors had taken loans and now struggling to repay them as a result of the Statutory Instrument (SI) 5 of 2023 Minerals Export Control (Unbeneficiated Base Mineral Ores).
“We humbly seek your indulgence in the granting of a six-month moratorium on SI 5 of 2023. The unexpected ban has prejudiced standing off-take agreements between miners and international buyers, some of whom had taken loans from their respective countries to finance trade in these minerals,” said Rushwaya.
“Some miners have found themselves stuck with huge stockpiles thus locking cash flows and affecting operations.”
Although artisanal miners, use rudimentary tools such as pans, picks and shovels, they contributed about 60% of gold to Zimbabwe’s Fidelity Gold Refineries.
Globally, they contribute 17% to 20% or between 380 – 450 tonnes of annual gold production.
Adds the letter: “The establishment of processing plants takes between six months to 12 months to commission. The current market for lithium is outside Zimbabwe and companies need to export the mineral to raise capital to build the plants.
“Livelihoods of small-scale miners involved in mining base minerals have been negatively impacted by the ban since the trading of the minerals was halted.”