Matabeleland female miners urged to form cooperatives

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FEMALE miners in Matabeleland have been encouraged to pull resources together and operate as cooperates to derive value from the capital intensive sector; especially in lithium.

The call was made by Africa Institute of Environmental Law (AIEL) coordinator Farai Mutondoro, during a training academy for artisanal and small-scale miners hosted by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) with support from Christian Aid Zimbabwe and AfricaMaVal.

AIEL is a research arm of Zela.

The training was held in Bulawayo under the theme Making Just Transition Inclusive for All.

Mutondoro said there was an untapped potential of lithium-rich land and urged women in mining to consider mining as cooperatives. “I argue that it is very important for women to consider mining cooperatives for them to drive value from lithium,” he said.

Mutondoro said mining remains a foundational pillar of Zimbabwe's economy, encompassing a diverse range of mining entities from small-scale artisanal miners to large-scale mining companies.

“Within the ASM sector we see huge participation of women trying to derive value from extraction, especially in the gold, chrome sector and other minerals," he said.

“But the first thing for women miners to extract value is to consider working as consortiums so that it becomes easy for them to seek financing from banks.”

Mutondoro also bemoaned the difficulties women miners face in accessing capital  compared to their male counterparts.

Often, the disincentive is that they cannot access financing and loans from financial institutions.

“So to mine as a group, it gives them some leverage and allows them to deter risks that come with mining,” he said.

“Mining is capital intensive and requires a lot of skills. I think we have seen many women miners mining for subsistence, for the sake of earning a dollar and not as a business."

He said the government’s legislation allowing for artisanal small-scale miners to be licensed provides an opportunity for women to enter the mining sector as groups.

“So with lithium, I think there are opportunities for women to participate and the first thing that we applaud is that legislation by the government regulating the extraction of base minerals provides for artisanal small scale miners to be licensed,” Mutondoro said.

“But their participation is through market interlinkages, they extract, then they have to sell to companies with capacity to process.”

Insiza Women In Mining chairperson Sibongile Ndlovu said female miners believed they had a significant role in boosting mining revenues.

“We feel as women miners, we have a role to play in increasing mining revenues,” Ndlovu said.

“We employ locals and as part of community development, we drill boreholes. Recently we discovered that there is more quarry within our claims.”

She added: “We appeal for government intervention and more assistance for women in mining.

“We need heavy-duty equipment such as compressors and excavators.”

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