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Government will provide thousands of small-scale miners with a US$100 million credit facility to support them with equipment and technical expertise to improve viability, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has said.

The move, he said, was in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), which has mining as a key economic driver.

Zim-Asset seeks to, among other things, strengthen SMEs and co-operatives to be viable as tools for poverty eradication.

This facility is expected boost annual gold production to over 14 tonnes, from the current four tonnes.

There are about 40 000 registered small-scale gold miners countrywide.

Said Minister Chidhakwa: “As Government, we are looking at providing small-scale miners with a line of credit of US$100 million to buy equipment. They identify the equipment they want and its purchased on their behalf.”

He said a delegation of small-scale miners and experts from the ministry and other Government departments would visit China to identify suitable machinery.

“We have already discussed with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on the issue and we expect to roll out the project soon.”

Minister Chidhakwa said Government was establishing mining service centres countrywide to provide small-scale miners with technical aice.

“Fidelity Printers and Refineries will buy the gold at a competitive price to eliminate gold leakages to neighbouring countries,” he said.

Gold Miners Association of Zimbabwe president Mr Morgan Mugawu said small-scale miners could boost national gold output.

“If Government is to capacitate only 3 000 small-scale miners producing a minimum of 400 grammes per month out of the 40 000 small-scale miners we have, we are able to produce up to 1,2 tonnes per month which will amount to 14,4 tonnes per year,” he said.

He said production would further increase with support to all miners.

According to Fidelity Printers and Refineries, the country’s sole gold buyer, at least four tonnes were delivered in the first quarter of 2014.

The deliveries from primary producers stood at 3,175 tonnes while small scale miners delivered weighed in with 762,3kg.

Source : The Herald