Women in the small scale and artisanal mining industry have revived the push for the protection of their ownership of mining claims, as well as for treasury to open finances to secure their participation in the mining industry.
One of the key components of the mining sector, the small scale and artisanal mining industry, is constituted by a huge female workforce that is playing a significant role in contribution to the overall gold production in the country.
However, despite the female miners being an important cornerstone to the mining sector, their challenges remain underreported and not recognised.
Speaking during a Women in Mining National Conference in Harare today, Zimbabwe Women in Mining and Mines Development Trust Chairperson, Ms Blessing Hungwe said their challenges include inaccessibility of capital to fund their operations, inadequate machinery and technology, use of hazardous substances such as mercury and more recently threats of dispossession of their mining claims.
In response, the Permanent Secretary of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Mrs Sibusisiwe Zembe said the government is cognisant of the important role of bridging the gender related challenges in the mining industry and has come up with stop gap initiatives to address some of the outlined challenges.
Gold production statistics as of last week stood at an impressive 25 tonnes, 3 tonnes short of the targeted output for this year.
Fidelity Printers and Refineries Initial Gold Development Fund Manager, Mr Matthew Chidavaenzi said the support provided by the central bank through the Gold Development Fund has been important in spurring the growth of the small scale and artisanal mining sector, but depressingly, only 11 of the women miners are utilising the $150 million fund.
The women small scale and artisanal miners are therefore pushing for the provision of financing by private and public institutions without the burden of collateral, clarity on the protection of their mining claims and the safeguarding women against rampant abuse that have been reported in this industry.