Posted: ’19-JAN-07 09:00′ GMT – Mineweb.net – Archive
Zimbabwe has denied reports that gold production in the country has gone down and has since claimed problems in the gold industry are down to criminal syndicates which are diverting this precious metal and smuggling it to neighboring countries.
Addressing the press on Wednesday in Harare, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said each time Police tightened the noose on gold smugglers, the country’s only gold buyer – Fidelity Printers and Refiners – would register an upsurge in gold inflows.
In a bid to stem out smuggling of the country’s minerals, the police with full backing of the government introduced a special operation to stamp out illegal mining and ensure sanity prevailed in the mining sector.
The State-run Herald Newspaper quotes the Minister as saying the police were aware that mining needs to play a pivotal role in Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround and that was why they operations were being undertaken to deal with the reckless disregard of the law by those who claimed to have mining licenses and did not bother to observe the regulations under which the licenses were issued.
“It was disconcerting to note during this operation that those who claim to be licensed miners were found to be buying gold from illegal miners,” he said. “Others who had milling licenses were grinding ore from all and sundry.”
He hinted that the police will continue with its clampdown operation and identifying panning sites until sanity has fully been restored in Zimbabwe’s mining industry. He said it is distressing that people had been arrested after being found in possession of gold that they could not account for.
Mohadi said the most affected provinces were Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South and the Midlands. He said in Manicaland the country witnessed a proliferation of illegal miners in search of diamonds in the Marange area. According to Mohadi, a total of 20,000 people had converged at this diamond site before police successfully cleared the area.
According to The Herald, at least 24,890 gold dealers and panners have been arrested countrywide and the police have recovered about 3.5kg of gold worth over $57.3 million and 7,868 diamonds since the launch of the blitz. Police have also recovered 552,257.7kg of gold ore and 92 emeralds, the value of which has not yet been ascertained.
A total of 1,874kg of quartz, 123g of gold alluvial, 38.96g of gold sponge, and 200g of gold concentrate were also recovered and another 25,000kg of chrome ore, 12.4kg of tin ore, 3.2g of melted tin, 7.14 kg of alluvial tin ore and 150 kg of gold carbon were also recovered during the operation.
But while Mohadi did not say anything on load-shedding and overall erratic power supply as being some of the factors affecting the mining industry in Harare, captains of the industry say there is more to Zimbabwe’s mining woes than smuggling alone.
While acknowledging that smuggling is having a dent on the country’s only thriving industry after the collapse of the agricultural industry, the industrialists are of the view that Zimbabwe should do better in ensuring that power supply is up date and not erratic as is the case now and that the country should strive to retain skilled staff in the industry.
In addition poor supply of money in the country has also left many mines using archaic machinery, making Zimbabwe one of the few mining countries where breakdown of mining machinery is the order of the day.