The Government has commenced the formalisation of illegal gold mining in Districts endowed with gold deposits through the setting up of cooperatives.
The Government through the Trade Related Facility (TRF) Project, implemented under the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI) is also undertaking preliminary geological assessments of gold deposits in Petauke and Rufunsa.
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development and Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretaries during the launch of sensitisation and formalisation of illegal gold mining held at Mphashya Hospital, Rufunsa District on Wednesday.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretaries Mrs Kayula Siame explained that the Government intends to promote responsible mineral production and supply chains by encouraging legalisation and formalisation of small scale mining and trading.
“It is for this reason that the two Ministries have partnered to promote responsible mining and trade of gold not only in Rufunsa but other areas where such activities are taking place,” Mrs. Siame said.
She said Government wants to build secure, transparent and verifiable value and supply chains of gold and ensure that local communities in mineral reserves benefit from these resources through organised mining and trade thereby enhance the socio-economic development of these areas.
Mrs. Siame emphasised that this whole process sits at the core of the diversification agenda that Government has embarked on.
“As you are aware, actualisation of diversification is a process. It involves putting in place both soft and hard infrastructure. Hard infrastructure will involve the construction and/ or acquisition of requisite infrastructure such as access roads, mining equipment, and refineries, among others. Soft infrastructure will involve putting in place the right governance structure and associated accessories such as rules and regulations to guide mining operations,” she said.
She explained that the joint intervention between the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and Mines and Mineral Development will focus on the soft infrastructure and emphasis will be placed on developing structures to support the formalisation of mining communities in order to pave way for other interventions such issuance of mining or panning certificates.
And Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development Permanent Secretary Paul Chanda explained that all mining and panning activities in the area remained suspended as per Ministerial directive.
Mr Chanda explained that this was for purposes of ensuring that the sector is better organised through formation of legal entities that will in future be eligible to obtain mining or panning certificates.
He also indicated that Government had commenced undertaking preliminary geological assessments of gold deposits in Petauke and Rufunsa as a means of quantifying the quantities of gold in the two areas.
He further indicated that Government was also exploring ways of developing a sustainable market for gold through the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) and the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH).
“We have tasked the two institutions to explore the possibilities of them being the sole buyers of gold that will be produced by the cooperatives and other miners. Modalities are being developed and this affirms Governments ambition to ensure that everything is in order.
He added that the cooperatives which are being formed may be capacitated with modern equipment or grants but that the issue was also under discussion.
At the launch of the sensitisations, three cooperatives where formed and issued Cooperative Certificates.
The launch was attended by local civic and traditional leadership, and the benefiting communities.