ASM is here to stay, why not formalise it?


The small-scale miners’ gold delivery to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) continues to surge with August figures showing that the sector delivered 1.91 tonnes while large miners delivered 1.03 tonnes. Despite the increased gold deliveries, the artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) are convinced that creating a conducive and appropriate legal and policy framework for the sector will triple the gains.

This came out during the fifth edition of the ASM Academy which ran from the 6th-8th September 2021. This year’s annual event which is ZELA’s brainchild ran under the theme, “Working towards safe and responsible mining: Promoting responsible sourcing in the ASM sector,” the Academy jointly supported by the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals and Christian Aid Zimbabwe was attended by 18 women and 12 miners from Bubi, Inyathi, Gwanda,Shurugwi and Zvishavane

In Zimbabwe, ASM has become a source of livelihood for millions of people. Sadly, the sector remains informalized and unregulated, thus posing challenges such as limited knowledge on the regulatory framework that govern it, limited access to working capital and even technical assistance.  The participants argued that the informal nature of the sector has continued to expose them to criminal elements such as “machete gangs” whom they contend have brought agony too intense to be borne.

In line with this year’s theme, the participants were taken through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains. Although the majority confessed ignorance about these principles, a handful admitted that they are making strides in ensuring that they identify, assess, report, and mitigate risks in their mining operations.

Senzeni Moyo[i] from Bubi expressed concern over the increasing rate of children working in ASM and how sometimes they are forced to employ them especially those from child headed and poverty-stricken families.

“I really appreciate the knowledge I have acquired. ASM is a source of livelihood for many, and I must confess that because of lack of knowledge I have failed to take a progressive approach in my operations. In my mining claim, there are children under the age of 18 and I was not aware that I am contributing directly or indirectly to child labor and human rights violations. At least now I know.”

Ministry of Health and Child Care’s training focused on sensitising miners on the importance of their mental health, how they can embrace safe sexual practices, how to promote best health practices including the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine specifications. The Zimbabwe School of Mines’ Zithelo Ndiweni also gave an insightful presentation on safety, handling, use and transportation of explosives.

In his presentation on Zimbabwe’s mining legal framework, ZELA’s Legal Officer, Richard Ncube highlighted that mining has become the mainstay of the country’s economy whose contribution occurs at several interrelated layers such as employment, foreign exchange generation and infrastructure development. It is therefore critical for the ASM to operate within the confines of the law.

Miners do acknowledge that formalization is a process and assert that an enabling environment must be created for the sector to thrive. This will also minimize negative environmental and health impacts that are common in ASM.

[i] Not her real name

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