Redwing Gold Mine closure blessing in disguise for small-scale miners

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PENHALONGA – The closure of Redwing Gold Mine in 2012 left many locals jobless.

The huge setback, however, forced John Chinonzwa (65), who lost his job, to not sit on his laurels but use his nine years experience with Redwing Gold Mine to establish himself as a small-scale miner and ultimately rise from the deep end to comfort zone.

Having only been able to reach Grade 5, Chinonzwa’s success is a perfect Cinderella story.

From being hopeless and jobless, the man is now a proud owner of various mining claims and a grinding mill.

Penhalonga Valley Investment is now a small-scale gold mining jewel, which he runs with his three sons.

The mill currently has 50 employees, while the mine at Muzuri has a 100-strong workforce.

Chinonzwa still has intentions to increase his gold production capacity.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity in as far as gold mining is concerned. I am now asking for more reforms on the ground to really make active small-scale gold mining in Zimbabwe and produce more gold for our country,” he said in a recent interview with Zim Morning Post.

“We have great potential to contribute more towards the fiscus if we mechanise and get access to affordable loans,” Chinonzwa added.

He said government should facilitate cheaper loans for him and others to buy more equipment and improve their productivity.

Chinonzwa has one modern round mill to add to the two archaic ball mills, which has seen him improve productivity.

He said on average he produces 1.2kg of gold monthly.

Chinonzwa is not only employment creation, but also contributing to the fiscus by selling gold through the formal system, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

Manicaland Miners Association (MMA) chairman Lovemore Kasha hailed Chinonzwa for making hay while the sun shone.

Kasha called on government to usher in critical reforms to support small-scale miners like Chinonzwa.

“We are looking forward to the speedy process of formalising small-scale miners and have big deliveries of gold to Fidelity,” Kasha said.

“If miners like Chinonzwa are fully supported, gold deliveries from small-scale miners sold through formal channels will increase and more can be achieved,” he said.

“There is need for government to seriously review the reforms being demanded by small-scale miners to capacitate and improve productivity,” Kasha said.

The Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development Manicaland director, Omen Sibanda, said gold mining was notably increasing in the province, with small-scale miners at the forefront.

“Gold mining is now up as evidenced by the increase in gold mills. The province also surpassed its annual gold delivery targets last year of 10 tonnes, which is a good sign that gold mining is on the increase and small-scale miners are on the forefront,” Sibanda said.

Chinonzwa last year received an award for being one of the best and consistent small-scale miners in Manicaland province at an awards ceremony organised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

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