PERMANENT Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Munesuishe Munodawafa, has implored the mining sector to embark on diversification programmes to increase the number of mineral commodities the country's economy can benefit from.
Mr Munodawafa made the remarks during the Kwekwe Mining Exhibition and Conference held in the mining town last Friday.
In a speech read on his behalf by ministry's principal director, Mr Valentine Vhera, Mr Munodawafa urged small-scale miners to consider extraction of other minerals other than gold and chrome.
"Zimbabwe's small-scale mining sector is concentrated on gold, chrome and semi-precious stones and this calls for more diversification in order to increase the number of mineral commodities that this sector can benefit from," said Mr Munodawafa.
Small-scale miners, said Mr Munodawafa, should form consortiums so that they benefit from a fund set aside for the sub-sector.
"At times it is difficult for the Government to release funds to an individual who is into mining of a certain mineral other than gold or chrome but if you come together as a syndicate, that way it becomes easy," he said.
Mr Munodawafa said gold miners were benefiting from the small-scale mining loan scheme availed by the Government to capacitate small-scale miners adding that chrome was also on the rise.
"Whenever we talk of small-scale miners, everyone thinks of gold and hence more attention is skewed to gold. The gold production figures from the small-scale sector are a testimony that indeed the gold development fund is bearing fruits," he said.
He said chrome was equally important as it was a major foreign currency earner just like gold.
"Chrome production rose by 128 percent from 731 000 tonnes in 2016 to 160 000 tonnes in 2017. Some chrome is exported in its raw form as a stop-gap measure to provide more market opportunities to small-scale miners or in some cases as processed high carbon ferrochrome," he said.
He said Government was committed to ensuring growth of the small-scale mining sector through timely interventions.
Speaking at the same function, Zimbabwe Miners Federation official, Mr Mukumba Nyenje, urged Government to urgently resolve mining disputes.
"We face challenges mostly after our mines are pegged. Someone just comes armed with papers claiming that the mine belongs to him. We need Government to seriously look into those matters that affect confidence among small-scale miners," said Mr Nyenje.
The mining exhibition and conference brought together miners, suppliers and other stakeholders in the mining sector with the aim of boosting the growth of the small-scale sector in the country.