By Tendai Sahondo – Tuesday 12 November 2019
HARARE (Mining Index) – MUTOKO Rural District Council (MRDC) is receiving $1RTGS for every ton of raw Black Granite mined in the district currently valued over a $1million, Mining Index has learnt.
In a recent interview, MRDC Chief Executive Officer, Peter Sigauke said Mutoko continues to suffer from the proverbial ‘paradox of plenty’ as the district is not benefitting anything meaningful from the lucrative trade.
“We are currently getting the pittance of a dollar per ton of black granite mined in Mutoko. We used to charge the same value during the dollarised era, which was not much but at least equivalent to a loaf of bread. However policies have shifted, leaving us in this predicament,” he said.
Sigauke said attempts to hike the council taxes have hit a brick wall as mining firms have not remitted anything since June.
“Council recently resolved to up its unit levy to RTGS$25 000 when we did our supplementary budget so that it could tally with the interbank rate at that time. However the extractive companies have not responded positively as we have not received anything from them since June this year when we announced our intentions. They seem to be forgetting that we are a taxing authority just like central government,” he lamented.
As a lasting solution, the CE called on government to allow local authorities to levy exporting companies in United States Dollars for a more cost reflective tariff.
“We understand that government pays Tobacco farmers and gold miners partly in USD as their commodities are exported outside the country. Why then can we not levy black granite mining firms in USD as 98% of the granite mined from Mutoko is exported to Europe and selected countries in Southern Africa. This will ensure that we at least get something from our precious finite stones that are benefiting foreign companies,” he said
Black granite has been mined in Mutoko since 1972 but has failed to transform the lives of communities in district Iconic buildings such as the Royal Dutch Library in Denmark have been built using granite from Mutoko yet no meaningful proceeds have accrued to the community.
Ironically, granite mining has added to the troubles of people in Mutoko as it leaves a trail environmental destruction. The negative effects of black granite mining include dust pollution, ecological disturbances, infrastructure destruction and even death as children and livestock sometimes drown in the muddy pools left uncovered by granite miners.
Mutoko based Youth Initiative Community Development Trust (YICDT) projects manager, Kudakwashe Makanda decried the sad state of affairs.
“The community is not benefiting anything from granite mining, neither is the council. The council needs proceeds from mining to build social infrastructure such as clinics, schools and roads, however that is not happening. Furthermore the mines are not employing our youths, we call on government to urgently address this deplorable situation,” said Makanda. ENDS//