Small-scale miners say fuel import fees charged by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) are excessively high and prohibitive.
Government recently liberalised the importation of fuel by big companies and organisations, saying they would use own free funds for fuel imports in a bid to ease shortages in the country. There have, however, been complaints that import licences to that effect were not affordable.
“Government has allowed miners to import fuel, but the application fees to register with Zera are too high, which is RTGS$23 000. Please, note also that fuel shortages will result in less gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) because of operation stoppages,” Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) president Henrietta Rushwaya said during a miner’s forum held in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
The ZMF president said due to fuel shortages and other challenges, gold output was expected to tumble this year.
“As ZMF, we also feel that based on our 2018 gold output statistics, 2019 might not be a lucrative year for Fidelity, nor for ZMF, nor for the nation at large, as it was in 2018. This is mostly caused by an erratic fuel supply and this has affected mining operations, especially for a sector which uses equipment that relies mostly on diesel,” she said.
Rushwaya said a fuel facility for the small-scale miners was on the cards after ZMF had engaged MetBank.
She added that the central bank’s position that small-scale miners’ retention rate be reduced to 55%, down from the previous 70%, would push them out of business.
“Miners relayed their displeasure in the reduction as they felt that there was no consultation whatsoever to justify the reduction. This has greatly affected gold deliveries at FPR,” she said.
Following the pronouncement, Rushwaya said gold output to FPR in 2019 production had drastically dropped from 500kg to 20kg a week, adding this would have a negative impact on the country’s Gross Domestic Product.