Zim struggling to plug gold leakages due to porous borders, late payments

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DELAYS in payments to gold producers, porous land borders, inadequate equipment and personnel at ports of entry and exit are the top factors leading to leakages and illicit trading in minerals, a report has revealed.

The report titled, ‘Illicit Trading In Minerals And Mineral Leakages’ was presented in Parliament by the  Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the security of minerals.

Illegal milling and unsupervised mining operations also contribute to gold smuggling in the country.

The report revealed that gold was the most smuggled mineral because there are many players involved that include artisanal and small-scale miners, millers, gold buyers and large-scale producers.

At the same time, gold can easily be extracted from the ground using rudimentary methods.

According to the National Development Strategy one, the mining sector accounts for sixty percent of the country’s export revenues.

“The mining industry has been experiencing mineral leakages thereby negatively affecting the sector’s potential contribution to the socio-economic transformation of the country,” reads part of the report.

“Indeed, illicit trading in the extractive industry, is crippling the country’s economy, creating anarchy in communities and has the potential of bringing untold suffering to ordinary citizens and may threaten national security.”

According to the Portfolio Committee, the quantity of smuggled gold cannot be ascertained but is estimated to be millions of US$.

“The leakages were prevalent across all minerals, with the gold sector at the top, because there are many players involved that include artisanal and small-scale miners, millers, gold buyers and large-scale producers.

“The Committee was informed by small-scale producers that Fidelity Gold Refiners, the sole buyer of gold, takes more than one week to pay producers after surrendering of gold.

“As a result, the small-scale producers were selling their gold to unregistered buyers who offer cash upon delivery of the gold.” read the report.

According to the report, the buyers of gold were using undesignated exit points to smuggle the gold out of the country.

The report also revealed that information provided by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) indicated that there was a stretch of 230 kilometres of the borderline encompassing Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, which was poorly manned by law enforcement agencies in Zimbabwe.

“Along that borderline there were over fifteen well-known unregistered exit and entry points between the three countries.”

At the official ports of entry, the Committee was informed by border officials that they did not have modern scanners to detect gold, diamonds and other minerals that may be smuggled out of the country.

At some ports of entry and exit the major cause of the leakage was collusion by airport officials. – Newzim