By Mukasiri Sibanda and Munyaradzi Hwengwere
The Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) sector has gained world attention for its potential to transform lives of impoverished but resource rich communities. Largely informal, very little is publicly known about the ASM sector. Often, the public is quick to judge artisanal miners based on negatives-environmental degradation, violence and spreading HIV and AIDS. Policy makers are sometimes guilt of failure to align their policy and practice reforms with what is happening on the ground. Positives from ASM are a blind spot to many. For example, medicines, fuel, raw materials for industry and other imported goods are being powered by gold mainly from the ASM sector. People’s lives are being transformed in rural areas and the stories are untold. Directly, the ASM sector support around 500,000 people and 3 million people indirectly. Yet what dominates in most news headlines are news of unsafe and irresponsible mining practice and murders. Policy makers have been accused of aligning their policy and practice reforms with what is happening on the ground.
Cognisant of the power coming with innovative products to enable the realisation of the African Mining Vision (AMV) ASM goal: “To create a mining sector that harnesses the potential of artisanal and small-scale mining to advance integrated and sustainable rural socio-economic development” an Annual State of the ASM Sector Report and 2018 Outlook will be produced. The report is coming at an opportune time when ASM gold production has outpaced primary gold producers.
Sometimes there is no need to reinvent the wheel. The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) for example, annually produces a report on state of the mining industry report. Mainly, the CoMZ report covers performance of the mining sector on areas like mineral productions, contribution to the fiscus, challenges facing the industry, linkages and beneficiation, safety, health and environmental issues, fatal accidents and perception on policy among others. Much as the CoMZ report is an important source of public information on what transpired in the mining industry in past year, the ASM sector is barely covered.
Since the Annual State of the ASM sector is being produced for the first time, a stakeholder sensitisation meeting has been pencilled on Thursday, 11 January 2018 at Jameson hotel. Invited stakeholders from government side include Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of Finance, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), Environment Management Agency (EMA), Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) minerals and boarder control, Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and the Standard Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ). Private sector players mainly banks, suppliers of equipment and consumables are also invited. Development partners and civil society organisations, media and skills development institutions have also been roped in.
Basically, the sensitisation meeting will seek to harvest ideas from various stakeholder groupings on how to enhance the value proposition for the Annual State of the ASM Sector Report. Further, discussions are going to zero in on how information will be collected from different stakeholders and key milestones for producing the report. Government institutions will be tasked with compiling key policy and practice reforms for 2017 and what to expect in 2018 as well as challenges and opportunities in the ASM sector. Other stakeholders will also share their key products and services introduced in the past year and expectations for 2018. The media will compile key stories that shaped the ASM sector in 2017 as well as their expectation for 2018.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) will produce the report with support from Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) and Mejrkh Media Advisory and Consultancy. Formed by the Ministry of Mines, ZMF is the umbrella board for all artisanal and small-scale miners’ association in Zimbabwe.
ZELA is a lead organisation on mineral resource governance which has been quite active in 2017 supporting artisanal small-scale gold miners through several activities; multi-stakeholder dialogue on ASM at local, provincial and national level; a skills development training for women in ASM; Gender Based Violence in ASM sector, input during national budget consultation process and work on proposed artisanal mining special permit along with other activities.
Mejrkh Media Advisory and Consultancy, is knowledge based company with a wide range of expertise in both large scale mining and ASM sector. The company is behind the annual Mining and suppliers Handbook and Minex and Mining Media Awards.