By HELEN ZULU -
THE Government has commenced the formalisation of illegal gold mining and trading in Zambia.
It has given out the first three mining and trading certificates to three mining cooperatives in Rufunsa District.
The formalisation is part of the European Union funded €1.4 million Trade Related Facility (TRF) project which aims at, among other things, helping Government map and formalise the gold mining sector in the country.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame said on Wednesday that preliminary geological indicators showed that Rufunsa District was endowed with gold deposits which were affirmed by the current surge in illegal gold mining and trading activities in the area.
She said this when she and her Ministry and her Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development counterpart, Paul Chanda presented certificates to three mining cooperatives in Rufunsa District.
Ms Siame said that illegal gold mining and trade were a source of concern to Government because the current activities were not bringing in intended benefits to the local communities.
The Government intends to promote responsible mineral production and supply chains by encouraging legalisation and formalisation of small scale mining and trading.
“It is for this reason that the two ministries have partnered to promote responsible mining and trade of gold not only in Rufunsa but other areas where such activities are taking place. The three cooperatives include Kamandu, Pockela and Chimwetu Mining Cooperatives,” Ms Same said.
The objectives were to build secure, transparent and verifiable value and supply chains of gold and to ensure that the local communities from which this resource was obtained benefit from the business.
Ms Kayula said emphasis was on developing structures to support the transformation.
And Mr Chanda said Government would provide grants to the cooperatives to enable them buy equipment for their operations and the capacity building would also be enhanced.
He said now that the cooperatives had been given the certificates, the next step for them was to apply for a gold panning license, mining rights or mining license before they could start their operations.
Mr Chanda said Government would deploy security officers to the district to guard the area where illegal gold mining was being conducted.
“We will also create a market for you as cooperatives,” he said.