THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security has told the government to change the mining model at Redwing Mine by the end of this month amid concerns of massive gold leakages and illicit dealings.
Redwing, previously run by South African businessman Mzi Khumalo and now under the control of Zanu PF benefactor Pedzisai “Scott” Sakupwanya (pictured), is at the centre of massive looting and environmental degradation.
Zimbabwe is endowed with over 40 different minerals and the mining sector has become the anchor of the economy. According to the National Development Strategy One (2021 to 2025), the mining sector accounts for 60% of the country’s export revenues.
However, the mining industry has been experiencing mineral leakages, negatively affecting the sector’s potential contribution to the socio-economic transformation of the country.
The government set a revenue target of US$4 billion to be generated by the gold sector by 2023. Experts say illicit trade in the extractive industry is crippling the economy, fomenting anarchy in communities and has the potential of bringing untold suffering to ordinary citizens and may threaten national security.
It is against this background that the committee undertook an inquiry into the security of minerals in order to establish the possible causes of mineral leakages in the country and recommend ways of curbing them.
According to a report by the parliamentary portfolio committee titled The Security of Minerals: Illicit Trading in Minerals and Mineral Leakages, Treasury is losing large amounts of money through illegal trade in minerals, particularly gold.
“By 30 June 2023, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development should review the mining model at Redwing Mine in order to adopt a sustainable mining model that integrates former mine workers and the surrounding community so that leakages are minimised,” the report reads.
“The Committee noted with concern that another source of gold leakages was at mining companies that have ownership wrangles. A case in point was Redwing Mine in Penhalonga which experienced an influx of illegal miners following a prolonged ownership wrangle. The Committee had an opportunity to meet former workers, management of Redwing Mine and Better Brands.
“The former workers highlighted that a lot of gold leakages were happening through artisanal mining at the tributary granted to Better Brands.”
The ommittee was told by the workers that there were over 800 pits and 400 hammer mills operating in Penhalonga.
In addition, the report noted that there were many gold buyers, both registered and unregistered, operating in the area. Furthermore, there were over 13 illegal crossing points into Mozambique and it was believed that those routes were being used to smuggle gold out of the country.
“The Committee was informed by the workers that, the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, ZRP and Environment Management Agency (EMA) were struggling to handle the illegal mining, milling and trading activities happening in the Penhalonga area. The local police station has no vehicle for patrols and effective enforcement of the law,” the report shows.
“Fidelity Gold Refiners were not stationed at the mining site to facilitate the buying of gold. There were high chances of under-declaration of gold produced and finally sold through formal channels.
“Better Brands told the Committee that its operations were above board and had declared 46,67kg to Fidelity Gold Refiners for the eight months it had been in operation since July 2021. They asserted that illegal hammer mills that had mushroomed near its mining tribute posed serious operational challenges and were a source of massive gold leakages.”