Zimbabwe: Small Scale Chrome Miners Sing the Blues (All Africa.com – October 29, 2015)

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WHEN the ban on chrome ore exports was said to have been lifted in June, miners along the Great Dyke thought their woes would soon be over.

But the joy was short-lived as companies such as the Zimbabwe Iron and Smelting Company (Zimasco) and Zimbabwe Alloys Limited (Zimalloys) among others who collectively own 78 percent of claims along the Great Dyke somewhat refused to relax terms of contracts. The companies still dictate the prices of chrome ore mined by tributary miners.

Most chrome miners especially around Shurugwi have borne the brunt of poverty for many years due to the fact that their short-term contracts can be revoked any time by claim owners even without notice. Life has thus increasingly become difficult.

The Chrome miners have been selling their chrome ore at between US$35 to US$40 per tonne to Chinese nationals who are exploiting them by offering low prices for their ore.

Shurugwi small-scale miners district chairperson, Isaac Chivendera, told the Financial Gazette this week that peripheral players had no power over what they produced from the claims.

“We have a problem because we don’t have power over the claims. We want the companies to release the claims to us,” Chivendera said.

Despite the miners receiving very little for their chrome ore, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) constantly pounces on them for not paying withholding taxes, which further impoverishes them.

Chivendera also complained about the heavy penalties that miners are made to pay for failing to remit withholding tax, saying this was tantamount to milking a dry cow as the chrome miners hardly had enough to sustain their families.

“They make us pay penalties to the tune of US$1 400, which is unjust,” he said.

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