ZIMBABWE’S biggest gold buyer Better Brands Jewellery (BBJ), owned by local gold baron Pedzisayi “Scott” Sakupwanya, says the government’s current bullion incentives will see record deliveries to the state-owned Fidelity Gold Refiners (FGR) — the target is 50 tonnes — by the end of the year.
Speaking to The NewsHawks following a story last week which vented complaints by artisanal and small-scale miners that the incentives were not benefitting them but the well-connected, Sakupwanya, a Zanu PF councillor for Mabvuku Ward 21, said overall the Gold Incentive Scheme offered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has had a positive impact on gold production and deliveries.
He said it has helped the sector recover from the devastating impact and consequences of Covid-19 which ravaged economies and societies globally, including Zimbabwe.
“The incentive scheme is helping to boost production and improve deliveries. We are encouraged by the incentives that the government has given to artisanal and to small-scale miners, as well as the agents,” Sakupwanya said.
“While more could be done to incentivise the small-scale miners — through further reviews and timely payments — the scheme has proved to be an effective tool to boost gold deliveries to Fidelity.
“The incentives have been well-received by small-scale miners whose response is reflected in ever-increasing deliveries to Fidelity. We are happy and grateful to government for the incentives which have spurred small-scale miners to produce more gold.
“What this tells you is that with more incentives, small-scale miners have capacity to contribute significantly to the economy and national fiscus. With this approach, gold output and deliveries will increase, and in the process alleviate gold leakages that continue to plague the country.”
Artisanal and small-scale miners protested that the incentives were only benefitting well-connected big players in the market.
However, Sakupwanya said his company was not crowding out the small players.
“We are not monopolising the gold industry and crowding out small players. BBJ actually has branches across the country and we are offering good prices to artisanal and small-scale miners. Everyone is free to either sell to us or straight to Fidelity.
“Only last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said gold production registered phenomenal growth and as BBJ we are part of it and we share the same vision of producing and buying as much gold as possible to boost the economy and avoid leakages.
“Our detractors will always try to find fault in our business model. Everything we do is above board and we are open to scrutiny. The incentive is designed to boost production for everyone. We are playing our part in growing small-scale miners, hence they now produce more.
“Small-scale miners are now delivering more gold to Fidelity than big established mines. This is because we are paying better prices to them across the country. We urge gold industry players to work together to boost production. The government is chasing an audacious target of 50 tonnes by end of the year. Let’s deliver it.”
In 2020, BBJ, which has been working with the RBZ for 16 years, delivered 800 kilogrammes. Last year, it increased that nearly 10 times as it delivered seven tonnes in a major haul which fetched about US$450 million.
“We believe we can achieve 50 tonnes this year as miners, both small-scale and large-scale. We will surpass the overall 29 tonnes that we delivered last year. Our deliveries are a testimony critical to the economy.” — STAFF WRITER