New rules to help artisanal miners

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Motuma Mekasa

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), the sole gold buyer in the country, is expected to consider the volume of gold that it receives from artisanal miners.
The Ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas (MMPNG), which is responsible for managing the mining sector, has undertaken various measures to improve the collection of gold from artisan mining since the sector’s output declined over the past few years.
In the good times gold revenue went up from the production volume of artisanal miners. For instance in 2011 and 2012 traditional gold miners supplied about four tons of gold to the international market via NBE.
However, the volume in the past few years has significantly declined, and the hard currency earnings from the sector have shrunk. However the sector has also been affected by the international market price decrease.
MMPNG believes that the price of gold will decline on international markets. Establishing market centers in five regions, expanding the controlling and halting smuggling are two major steps the government is taking to improve the gold market. The bank has purchased the mine by adding an additional five percent from the daily international market.
The new restructuring would be the volume of the minerals that artisans supply to NBE.
MMPNG conducted a study to improve the system, according to sources.
Currently, the minimum gram that NBE accepts from the gold miners is 150 grams. This volume has improved two years ago. Previously for two years the artisanal miner had to come up with 250 grams of gold otherwise they would not be accepted at NBE. The current amount of volume that NBE set is very high, according to experts. “Since the bank is not interested in accepting the small amount of gold that is less than 150 grams the artisans has to wait until the precious mineral makes the minimum weight,” experts said.
The current situation encouraged artisans to sell the small amount their mined gold to illegal smugglers since they were unable to sell it to NBE, according to experts at MMPNG.
The artisans want the money as soon as they mine the product.
Motuma Mekassa, Minister of MMPNG, told Capital that his ministry is under discussion with NBE.
“It is in the early stage to give details but we are speaking with the bank to improve the volume that it receives,” Motuma added.
The ministry has evaluated the experience of others, according to Kiros Alemayehu, public relations deputy head at MMPNG. He said that if you see Ghana the artisans sell any volume of mined gold.
In the past fiscal year the product that artisans based in five regions, supplied to the central bank was less than two tons, while the country exported about six tones of gold worth USD 231 million. The revenue from gold declined as illegal trade expanded.
The balance of the tonnage came from Midroc Gold, the only large scale gold miner in the country. In the current budget year the ministry has targeted to earn USD 450 million from mining with gold making up most of that. More than 1.5 million artisan miners are producing gold in Gambella, SNNP, Oromia, Benshangul Gumuz and Tigrai.