ZCCM-IH minority shareholders have requested government to withdraw gold mining licences granted to miners in Lusaka’s Rufunsa district.
On May 24 this year, mines permanent secretary Barnaby Mulenga announced that government had given a mandate to the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings (ZCCM-IH) to coordinate efforts to purchase gold from artisanal miners and to also coordinate gold trading business in the country.
Mulenga also said all gold from artisanal miners should be bought through ZCCM-IH and remitted to the Bank of Zambia in order to build strategic reserves for the country.
Government has declared gold as a strategic mineral meant to allow all citizens to benefit from its exploitation.
Further, government handed-over gold mining equipment worth K1.3 million to three cooperatives aimed at scaling up gold production levels in Rufunsa, Vubwi and Lundazi districts in Eastern Province.
However, miners in Rufunsa have boycotted trading with government over its decision that ZCCM-IH would be the sole owner of the gold-mining equipment, which was recently procured.
But the miners have refused to sign a supply agreement with ZCCM-IH after raising concern over ownership of the equipment.
Reacting to the miners’ behaviour, Euronext Minority Shareholders of ZCCM-IH described them as blackmailers.
“Moreover, the granting of gold licenses has generated much enthusiasm throughout the country. The licenses of these infamous blackmailers must be revoked and attributed to other Zambians or honest cooperatives who wish to act not only for themselves but also in the general interest, particularly to strengthen Zambia’s strategic reserves in the current financial context,” the minority shareholder said through Thierry Charles. “It is only logical that ZCCM-IH, commissioned by GRZ, monitors and controls the operating equipment. It is strange that the miners of Rufunsa are reluctant to have the equipment controlled by ZCCM-IH in the general interest and bite the hand that feeds them.”
He questioned the miners’ motive in wanting to control mining equipment.
Charles further questioned the arrogance in refusing to obey legal government directives.
“Why do they want to recover ownership and management of the mining equipment that has been made available for free to them? Would ZCCM-IH surveillance prevent illegal exploitation with the provided equipment? One can assume so, given the reactions,” said Charles. “The blackmailers have absolutely no recognition of the efforts undertaken by GRZ and ZCCM-IH to develop small-scale mining. While ZCCM-IH faces other challenges, our company provides serious and competent teams to structure the gold sector and bring technical skills to these ingrates while wasting time and money.”