…. The Small-Scale Miners Association of Zambia says Karma Mining Services has not only the skills and experience but also resources to improve gold mining and trade in Zambia
By Francis Maingaila
Lusaka (29-05-2020) The Small-Scale Miners Association of Zambia (SSMAZ)has welcomed a Joint venture signing between the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mine Investments Holdings (ZCCM – IH) and Karma Mining Services of Sudan which seek to improve the gold mining and trade in Zambia.
Association president Kunda Chani told journalists in an exclusive interview that Karma Mining Services possess the necessary experience and resources which will benefit Zambia in its endeavor not only to mine but also trade in gold and other precious minerals.
In terms of high risks involved in gold mining, extraction and recovery, Chani observed, the position taken by the ZCCM – IH to attract a partner like Karma is meant in good faith.
He observed that for a long time now, Karma Mining Services of Sudan in has been involved in the mining of small scale and artisanal particularly in the gold mining space.
Other than uncoordinated mining activities with-in Sudan under the artisanal and small-scale mining space Chani observed, Sudan had surpassed Ghana and South Africa in old mining activities.
He advised the people, especially those that have the technical know-how to investigation the relevance of the processing equipment.
He said Karma brought in that equipment and yet some people are going around saying Rwanda has bought equipment worth five (5) million dollars.
And everybody is trying to make a joke out of this. Rwanda has been in gold trade, gold mining for a long time in comparison to Zambia. And Rwanda has brought even private players to come on board to mine the gold, and trade their gold either locally, or take their gold out of Rwanda.
But you see, Zambia, because like I said, being on the right (side) of criticism is the easiest. People do not take keen interest to understand to say, but why have they given Karma Mining Services the processing component?”
He observed that if you’re going to get the value of gold where they are saying one thousand, seven hundred and twenty-two (kwacha, K1,722) today’s value, you need to produce high quality, refined gold.
The reserve, and high commercial trade in the interest of bringing money into the national treasury to stabilize the economy, to stabilize our currency, and enjoy other benefits. The aspect of processing should be respected.
He appeal again to the general citizenry, give this process a chance and see how is going to build on the stock levels in terms of gold, and the impact that it will have on the economy.
“Querying, (and) fighting about it will not help. The decision that might be made might not be (one) hundred percent (100%), but give it a chance. Like we are, we are not (one) hundred percent in order. Let’s give this JV a chance. That is the appeal that we are making to the general citizenry of our country.”
Looking from the point of research, Chani said the experience possessed by citizenries of Sudan has not only excited but also comfortedthe association and commended ZCCM -IH for having done its homework before partnering with Karma Mining Services.
He suggested that Zambia has a policy which allows Zambians at artisanal stage to apply for panning licenses that last for a duration of two years.
“We know for a fact that members of our association, most of them have acquired these particular licenses.”
Beyond that, Chani explained, there are mineral trading permits given to Zambians
He said the target that ZCCM Investments Holding in collaboration with the ministry of mines are targetingforty tones annually.
At the risk of being seen to be undermining the Zambians involved in gold mining and seeing at the high-level risk business involved in gold mining and gold recovery, Chani doubt the set target of 40 tones can easily be met by the people involved in gold mining especially that many are still at artisanal and are yet to reach the level small scale. He suggested that gold mining demand for a lot of patience and some degree of experience which is not available in Zambia at the moment.
“I’ll tell you that its colleagues coming from countries like Tanzania, DRC and Rwanda, that have actually helped to develop the gold mining in Zambia because they have not only heldthe vast experience in gold mining but also have the resources compared to our citizens.”
He observed that gold mining in Zambia is something very new and to develop the art, there is need for time to learn and develop the art.
He hopesthat thecurrent project will serve as learning process and in the long run, the local people involved in gold mining will benefiting from it.
He saidit was important for the people of Zambia to allow individuals or companies, including partnerships with foreign companies like Karma Mining Services that understand the art of gold mining come on board and help out.
“I think, this exercise will give comfort and some breathing space to the National Treasury because then, we are using some private fund, and in return we are benefiting. This is risk minimization.”
He further suggested that gold mining or mining gemor any other mining precious elements is not the same as mining base metals like copper, manganese, and these others.
“You see, the technical aspect, (and) I am not disrespecting engineers, metallurgists, chemical engineers, and whatever other engineers with-in the country. It’s the complexity that comes with gold mining. It’s not that we cannot teach our people, we can. But what targets are we trying to meet?” he asked.
He observed that, there is not only a boom in the gold mining space but also in the gold pricing which at the moment isbullish.
“We need to take advantage of this bullish. Remember when China came on the stream, 2008, 2007, that period when China begun to build a new China? Look at how the price of copper sky-rocketed. We benefited from it as a country. Let’s not allow this opportunity of the high prices of gold to surpass us. Let’s not be left behind,” Chani appealed.
He added that Zambians may have the capacity, but arestill in the learning process and the complexity involved in the gold mining puts country at a disadvantage.
That is why we need measures. That is why ZCCM – IH is involved in the operations and is the key players in this joint venture,” he said
“It is important that Zambians exercise some degree of caution towards this particular Joint Venture and allow it to roll out. Monitor it, but allow it to roll out so that we can see the day to day benefits that are coming to the country. It’s not a benefit going to an individual, it’s a benefit going to the treasury. The treasury decides how we spend money in the interest of the country and promotes growth and stability with-in the economy,” he added.
Chanda also regretted the negative comments, videos circulating with distorted information suggesting that the police in Mwinilunga had made an arrest of certain individuals that had gone to Kasenseli area and managed to excavate two hundred and twenty kilograms (220kg) of gold ore, or gold soil.
“That is misinformation. That is where you bring in now the right processors. The most critical part is the processing,” he said.
He said the quality of gold that is coming out of the ground is not ninety-nine-point nine percent (99.9%) pure and on the global market, there’s an acceptable percentage that buyers will go for.
Even when you are trying to use gold as a reserve, Chani suggested, you’re not just ordinarily have gold in a low-grade form.
“If you do engineering, from a point of view of engineering, from a point of view of metallurgical engineers, there’s what we call a concentrate.”
He added that what is mined underground is probably point something. KCM (Konkola Copper Mines), Kalumbila, the difference is the through-put of what they are feeding to the plant because they are big mining players. But the quality is low, isn’t it? Then there’s concentration of the material to boost the grade. When you boost the grade, then you produce the final product probably of copper cathodes.
What I’m trying to say, the gold processing aspect is the most critical. People think that you know the example that is being given as a point of argument, people are saying, and I think this is where Kasenseli brought a lot of problems for Zambia.
You know when those people went in to pick the gold that was in Kasenseli, that area, the out-crop gold that they found on the surface, everybody now has a perception that you can just easily pick gold, and then you can sell it in that form.
He said ZCCM Investments Holdings engaged a drilling firm to go into Kasenseli to establish the size of the ore body.
“When they establish the size of the ore body, you’re not going to get gold that has high scale commercial value from one meter, two meters. It doesn’t work like that. So, to complete the entire equation, you need to understand the aspect of processing. If you have the right equipment, the right acceptable modern technology for processing to produce the final bullion and the final bullion should be ninety-nine-point nine-nine-nine (99.999%) for it to be accepted on the global market.”