Zimbabwe’s mining premier exhibition, Mine Entra has ended with government urging big mining giants to release mining claims which are lying idle to small scale miners who are now the biggest contributor to the country’s gold reserves.

Zimbabwe could be losing millions of dollars in claims that are not being exploited by big mining conglomerates.

Speaking at a small scale mining conference in Bulawayo during the Mine Entra exhibition, Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development Cde Polite Kambaruma gave a strong warning to big mining giants who are not utilising their mining claims saying they should consider releasing them back to the government.

“There are big mining organisations that are sitting on large numbers of claims. Some companies are sitting on 570 claims but currently there are mining by 20 claims. What is happening with 560 claims? So it’s high time large scale operators make use of those claims. If you are not in a position tell us to make use of those claims. How many you want to mine and the extra let us give small scale miners. We also need to give our youths and women mineral rights,” said the deputy minister.

Cde Kambaruma also set the gun ablaze on big mining companies who are fleecing the government by producing fake reports pertaining to mineral output.

“There are some operators who are going out of the law because we have opened the door. Last week, we went to Mashonaland Central in Bindura and shut out one milling operation. How can one declare one kilogrammes in five months this raises eyebrows,” she said.

Despite artisanal and small scale miners contributing over 50 percent of the foreign currency earnings in the past two years, the country is experiencing rampant mining ownership wrangle which are fuelled by lack of survey information within the mining industry.

Meanwhile, artisanal and small scale miners have appealed to government to revise downwards levies and fees so that they are not inhibitive.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, Mrs Henrietta Rushwaya, said the majority of illegal miners commonly known as amakorokoza are not registered due to prohibitive fees which were needed for one to be considered a registered miner.

“Despite artisanal and small scale miners contributing to over 60 percent of the gold production as recorded so far, some are facing a number of binding constraints. We are engaging Ministry of Mines to have levies and fees revised downwards so that they are not inhibitive. It takes long to solve dispute and another challenge is that there is not enough land for prospecting as the majority of land has already been taken by big mining conglomerates,” she said.

As of last month, artisanal and small scale miners have delivered over 16.52 tonnes of gold out of the 24.74 tonnes delivered to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.