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Ministry Denies License Penhalonga Artisan Miners

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By Kenneth Matimaire

Mutare, December 10, 2016 – THE Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has denied issuing mining licenses to 52 artisan miners in Penhalonga who have completed all the necessary procedures and financial requirements due to a certificate misplaced by one of the officials.

The artisan miners who are all breadwinners for their respective families have been waiting to get their licenses since March this year for a process that takes less than two weeks if all the procedures have been met.

RadioVOP gathered that the 52 artisan miners grouped into five syndicates, long completed all the necessary procedures and payments of the required fees such as prospecting, pegging, and licensing fees.

The artisan miners’ bid to comply with the legal requirements of becoming lawfully registered entities as dictated by the archaic Mines and Minerals Act and hopes to fend for their families, were shattered as the ministry has been dragging its feet.

The Ministry of Mines argued that they first have to locate a certificate obtained from the former claims holders renouncing their interest to extract gold in the respective claims before they can issue the license.

The certificate was signed by the former Ghanaian claim holders and filed by the ministry official identified as one Kazembe.

However, the file mysteriously disappeared, raising fears that the officials might be using the certificate as a ploy to extort bribes or to frustrate the artisan miners in order to offer the claims to other interested parties.

Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) indicated that it is ironic that the ministry which is supposed to be custodians of the transition of artisan miners into legally registered miners has become a stumbling block to the impoverished community seeking to lawfully sustain themselves.

“We actually completed all the bureaucratic processes by November 2015 from paying prospecting, pegging, and licensing fees. But the procedures were all completed in March 2016,” said CNRG director Farai Maguwu during a media awareness workshop on Formalisation of Artisanal Mining held this week.

“After this the artisan miners were told that they will be issued with their licenses after two weeks. But two weeks went into another two weeks into another and then a month after the other until I intervened.”

Maguwu lamented that the ministry has refused to budge despite his intervention.

He went on to lambast the ministry for trying to punish Penhalonga artisan miners for its own mistakes.

“Sadly the provincial director Mr (Christopher) Dube said they could not issue the license because they needed a certificate that shows that the previous claim holders had renounced the claims. I was referred from one office to the other until I told them that I do not work for them and should not be doing the job they should. They should be the ones making phone calls and following up on people they were referring me to, in order to find the letter. 

“The letter has not yet been located as of now and there is no hope whatsoever,” fumed Maguwu.

He further indicated that the mines director advised them to get a copy of the certificate from the Ghanaians who used to own the claims at a time they left the country long back.

When reached for comment, Manicaland provincial mines director, Christopher Dube professed ignorance over the matter.

“I am not aware of such a case, why don’t they come and talk to us,” Dube repeatedly said.

However, when informed that several engagements had been done by CNRG executive director and his office, Dube said there are ways to resolve the matter.

“They should come. It’s possible that there might be a small challenge regarding the issue but it’s best if they approach our offices so that we can resolve the matter. We have an open door policy,” he said.

One of the affected artisan miners who are supposed to benefit, Joseline Musiyazviriyo said mines officials warned them not to set foot in the claims or risk arrests.

Musiyazviriyo said this had been a major drawback as they have been knocking on one office to the other at a time they should be operating to sustain their families.

“We were told that if they hear or find us working in the claims, they will get us arrested. Right now we have been referred from one door to the other but nothing is materializing, we have spent too much time engaging officials at the Mines Ministry at a time we should be working because we have families to feed.

“So what this means is that by delaying to license us, the ministry is forcing us back to illegal gold mining,” she said.

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