The formalisation process of over 15,000 artisanal gold miners in the Lusangazi District of the Eastern Province has advanced into its finalisation stage.
Migodi-Auric Limited Chief Executive Officer Cletus Mwiinga says that the finalisation stage involves environmental regulatory approval of the artisanal mining operations.
Mr Mwiinga says a series of meetings, involving Migodi-Auric, are scheduled to take place this week that will see Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) and Lusangazi Town Council finalise modalities of issuing cooperative-based Environment Project Briefs to artisanal miners.
ZANIS reports Mr Mwiinga in an interview explained that by standard environmental briefs are supposed to be developed by environmental consultants, but Migodi-Auric has presented a model that will fit the artisanal miners who cannot afford to hire consultants.
“What we will be resolving is that these artisanal miners do not have the capacity to hire consultancy. The sustainable way of doing this is that, the local authority has the capacity, with a subject matter specialist who is an environmental specialist, sitting in there, who will work with artisanal miners to draft these environmental briefs,” he said.
Mr Mwiinga noted that the approach of allowing the council to do environmental project briefs will benefit a regulated growth of the artisanal gold industry.
“Yes, environmental consultants are important, they are critical to the industry. But for now, since we are trying to grow this artisanal sector, the local authority has to provide that oversight in drafting the environmental project briefs and then they come to the ZEMA office here in Chipata, who will do their preliminary works for final approval in Lusaka. Then this will be good to go,” he added.
Mr Mwiinga disclosed that once the ZEMA approval is done, Government will issue mining licenses to formalise the miners, putting to an end illegal gold mining in Lusangazi that has over the years seen government lose millions of Kwacha in unaccounted for gold revenues.
The Migodi-Auric CEO says the artisanal gold miners will also register with Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) and NAPSA for tax compliance and mandatory pension fund.
“If we get the environmental aspect sorted out, the artisanal miners will pay taxes and start contributing to their pension,” he said.
He added that: “People talk of the exchange rate and think the economy is not doing well, but there is that informal sector producing rich quantities of gold.
“ So the benefit to the economy is that once this gold is trapped in the Bank of Zambia as reserves, it stabilises the Kwacha, it stabilises the economy.”
Migodi-Auric Limited is an intermediary company that has signed an Off-take Agreement with ZCCM Gold Company (ZGC) Limited to operationalise the formalisation of the artisanal gold miners being piloted in the Eastern Province.
The company also has an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) with GRZ through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), establishing it as a venture capital firm tasked with raising 3.6 billion United States Dollars of Development Capital for the formalisation of close to 600,000 artisanal gold miners in Lusaka, Central and Eastern Provinces.
So far, the company has installed a centralised 700,000 United States Dollar gold wash plant in Lusangazi through which all formalised artisanal miners will process their gold ore for onward sale to ZGC, the government gold company.