Emerald miners frown upon Budget

THE Emerald and Semi Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia (ESMAZ) has said the 2014 National Budget does not address the core value of awakening the ‘sleeping giant’ in emerald mining.

According to a statement released in Ndola, ESMAZ general secretary Victor Kalesha said the budget only highlighted issues to do with the local auctioning of gemstones other than addressing how non-operating mines would be helped to get operational.
He observed that emerald mining was a sleeping giant that only needed to be awakened like was the case in Columbia and Brazil, where the sector was the backbone of their economies.
“In as much as we appreciate the Government’s commitment to improve the economy of the country, we as small-scale miners are disappointed that the 2014 National Budget has not addressed the core value of awakening the ‘sleeping giant’ in emerald mining,” Mr Kalesha said.
He said the Government had proved from the previous auction sales that emerald mining could contribute positively to the revenue collection if more mines were in operation.
“On small-scale mining, the budget speech only spoke of local auctioning of gemstones instead of addressing the issue of how non-operating mines will be helped to get operational.
“The issue of revenue collection is not about local or outside auctioning of emeralds, the issue is how many more gemstone mines can start operating so that they can start contributing to the national cake through proceeds collection,” he said.
Mr Kalesha said as much as Government wanted to increase its revenue collection from gemstone mining, it should be willing to empower Zambian-owned mines to make them become fully fledged operating mines.