Zimbabwe's rugged artisanal and small-scale mining sector

Mining Environmental impacts Poverty Zimbabwe

With unemployment numbers soaring and successive droughts immensely affecting subsistence farming in rural Zimbabwe, young people are resorting to a more lucrative alternative, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). Zimbabwe is said to have over 4,000 gold deposits, and the Parliament of Zimbabwe estimates that some 500,000 small-scale miners in the country support up to three million dependents.

While their activities are characterised by the use of rudimentary methods and processes to extract gold, ASM work, according to official government statistics, produces more gold than large scale mining corporations. Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and sole legal buyer of the precious metal, states that ASM produced 21.7 tonnes compared to mining companies’ 11.5 tonnes in 2018.

This report explains this process and documents its social and environmental impacts.

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