Following an article titled, “Mpande Rejects Gold Plan,” published by the Daily Nation Newspaper on Thursday, 2nd January, 2020, the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development would like to address the following concerns raised by the former Minister of Mines, Dr. Mpande;
Issue 1 raised: GOVERNMENT SHOULD EMPOWER ITS CITIZENS TO INVEST IN GOLD MINING AS HAS BEEN THE CASE IN TANZANIA.
– Government Response:
Contrary to the assertion, the Government has moved decisively to empower its Citizens over the matter of gold. In fact, Dr. Mpande spoke without getting the details of what Cabinet directed. Cabinet specifically on the matter of Citizen empowerment directed that small scale and artisanal miners be organized and formalized by:
i. Legalizing the gold panning activities by granting gold panning certificates in line with the law;
ii. Providing gold panning equipment to the gold panning communities and cooperatives. In that respect gold panning equipment has already been procured through the Ministry of Commerce that has partnered with the Ministry of Mines to realise this goal of empowering the citizens to have higher recoveries of gold in their gold panning exercises;
iii. ZCCM-IH Plc is establishing offices in the areas where there are gold panning activities. This move is to make it easier for the citizens involved in gold panning to have a ready market for their gold within reach of their mining activities;
iv. Government is only giving Artisanal licences to Citizens because by law, this is a tool to empower Citizens, therefore the move is further evidence that Government means well for its citizens;
v. What Dr. Mpande was citing as trading hubs is what exactly Cabinet directed should be done and has been done by ZCCM-IH Plc establishing trading hubs in the gold panning areas;
vi. Cabinet further directed that Higher institutions of learning be incorporated to provide Research and Development to the gold mining to improve gold recovery methods and also discourage the use of mercury so that we preserve both human lives and the environment. In other words Cabinet wants Artisanal mining to be supported with some extension services so that gold recovery by the citizens involved in gold mining can be increased substantially;
vii. Another directive of the Cabinet was the need to support the artisanal or small scale miners with Borehole water in mining areas where there are no ready water bodies but artisanal/small scale miners are operating or can operate from;
viii. The above measures were all directed by Cabinet to empower Zambian Citizens involved in gold mining and to also encourage others to join in mining gold lawfully.
Issue No. 2: DR MPANDE RAISED AN ISSUE INVOLVING BANK OF ZAMBIA (BOZ) HAVING THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO BUY GOLD FROM THE ARTISANAL MINERS/NEW MINES OPENED.
– Government Response:
i. Government means well in allowing the Bank of Zambia (BOZ) to have the exclusive right to buy the gold because it helps build the strategic international reserves using gold Bullion.
ii. Further it is not the first time that Bank of Zambia has been able to buy Gold from the Mines. Before the privatization, ZCCM used to process gold and sell to BOZ, which was a positive move, so we are surprised that Dr. Mpande can frown on an idea that helps the Zambian economy.
iii. BOZ will buy the gold in Kwacha which further strengthens the Kwacha against the United States Dollar.
iv. BOZ will be free to exercise the right of refusal if they are not able to buy the gold. In other words, the government has not effected a ban but rather prioritized BOZ so that the nation can benefit because a vibrant economy affects every aspect of the Zambian lives.
v. The International best practice is that a number of nations around the world are systematically building their Strategic Gold Reserves and therefore the Zambian Government is simply doing what prudent governments do. Examples abound of Countries that are seriously building their Gold Strategic Reserves including China, Turkey, Russia, and Botswana. In those countries, gold is treated in a certain way. It is not surprising that Cabinet Directed that Gold be declared a strategic mineral because of its impact on the economy and lives of the people.
Issue No. 3: GOLD IS NOT A DIFFICULT MINERAL TO MINE OR CONCENTRATE AND PROCESS BECAUSE YOU NEED BASIC EQUIPMENT AND A US$1MILLION CAN BE GIVEN TO CITIZENS TO EXPLOIT THE GOLD.
– Government Response:
We are aware as the government that there are different types of gold deposits. Alluvial gold (Or gold washed down by water) is easy to mine depending on the location, where as there is Elluvial gold (Gold embedded in rocks) usually found in rock structure and other formations is more expensive and requires more financial investment;
For the Alluvial gold, the government has proactively put the programme of Artisanal Miners in place to especially empower its citizens as outlined above. In addition, equipment in the form of panning tables and gold detection equipment has already been sourced by Government to support the Artisanal miners because there is an appreciation that it’s easy to mine the alluvial gold. So Dr. Mpande is attacking from a position of not knowing what Governmnet is doing: if he took time to read what out policy documents say, he will become our Ambassador because Governmnet has done and is doing beyond what he indicated when he was asked about this. The purchase of the gold and organization of artisanal miners commences in ernest on 1st Febraury 2020, so what is currently happening is the establishment of the systems by ZCCM-IH Plc.
As for elluvial gold however, higher investment is required much higher than the US$1million talked about by Dr. mpande hence the involvement of ZCCM-IH Plc in areas like Mwinilunga because more sophisticated methods including processing plants are required to recover the gold. Similar to the the proactive Governmnet stance taken on the small scale/Alluvial gold, the processes for the establishment of the large scale mine in Mwinilunga is underway also set for opening this year 2020.
In other words Government’s approach to both the Alluvial and elluvial gold in terms of how to invest has been done because Cabinet was alive to both realities.
Issue No 4: GOVERNMENT IS PURSUING COLONIAL POLICIES THAT HAVE NEVER WORKED BUT SHOULD EMULATE TANZANIA AND EMPOWER CITIZENS.
– Government Response:
Contrary to the assertion by Dr. Mpande,
a. The Government Policy and strategy on Gold is not different from the Tanzanians. As a matter of fact the strategy is modelled on the Tanzanian/Ghanaian model with modification because of appreciating that there is a Zambian context to mining which the Government strategy has addressed;
b. The policy prioritises Citizens as being a critical part of the strategy to exploit gold: As indicated above Government has never talked about chasing away its citizens involved in gold mining but instead, the government has provided a ready market for the Artisanal miners, in addition to legalizing their operations (Grant of gold panning certificates).
In conclusion, it is clear that Government means well and through the strategy on gold, its an opportunity to empower Zambian Citizens both at a small scale\Artisanal level and also large scale.
Our people must be excited about gold programmes because, through them, the government is creating jobs and empowering Zambians.
Hon. Richard Musukwa, MP,
Minister of Mines and Minerals Development