$1,1m gold processing plant commissioned

HAWKLINE Gold Mine in Insiza district, Matabeleland South province has commissioned a $1,1 million processing plant as the newly established project invests in mining technology to maximise output.

Mrs Kundai Chikonzo owns the mine and has secured support through the Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF) from Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

Mr Matthew Chidavaenzi, who heads the GDIF at Fidelity, presided over the commissioning of the plant on behalf of general manager, Mr Fradreck Kunaka, on Thursday.

“Every effort must be made to capacitate the small-scale miners who are the backbone of the gold industry at the moment.

“The first reason why we fund small-scale miners through the GDIF is to ensure that there is more production and secondly, it’s an empowerment tool. I am yet to see one of the biggest empowerment tools in the history of the country,” he said.

Mrs Chikonzo pledged to continue investing in mining equipment so that they maximise output and contribute to the US$12 billion mining economy as enunciated by President Mnangagwa.

She said her mine was focused on growing from being a small-scale mining operation to a large mining house in future.

“We are saying if there is How Mine or Shamva Mine, among others who are doing mining formally, why us also not do it formally?

“They started at the level we are in today. So, we believe we also have the potential to reach their status one day through doing all things right,” she said.

Mr Chidavaenzi said Government created the GDIF to support small-scale gold mining activities after realising that entrepreneurs in the sector did not have access to finance.

“Banks have no model on how to lend these miners (small-scale miners). So, this (GDIF) was a deliberate strategy by the Government to ensure that firstly, there is a model that can be used to attract private players to put more money into investment in gold mining,” he said.

Government through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe launched the GDIF in recognition of the critical role played by small-scale miners in the production of the yellow metal.

According to statistics from the country’s sole gold buyer, Fidelity Printers and Refiners, Zimbabwe in 2018 produced 33,2 tonnes of the yellow metal with the bulk of it coming from the small-scale mining industry. Government has set a gold output target of 40 tonnes this year.

Under the GDIF initiative, beneficiaries are able to mechanise their operations by accessing loans at 10 percent interest.

The gold mine, which is in its initial stages of development occupies a 10-hectare piece of land and employs 23 people including management.

Speaking at the same event, deputy mining director for Matabeleland South, Engineer Khumbulani Mlangeni, said the Hawkline mining project was expected to add impetus towards Government’s targeted gold output.

“There is also the concept of devolution of provinces and based on the fact that Matabeleland South is one of the biggest gold-producing regions in the country we expect the province to have control over its resources,” he said.

The mining sector is one of the key pillars to anchor the country towards achieving the envisioned upper middle-income economy status by 2030.

Recently, President Mnangagwa launched a strategic roadmap to the achievement of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023 as Government consolidates efforts to increase the sector’s contribution to the economy.

The projected increase represents a 344 percent jump from US$2,7 billion achieved in 2017.

Already, the mining sector is critical in generating foreign currency, contributing about 70 percent of the country’s forex earnings. — @okazunga

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