‘Sponsors’ Rip-Off Small-Scale Women Chrome Miners in Zvishavane

The viability and profitability of small-scale chrome mining operations dotted around the
Zvishavane town is being jeopardized by the deplorable activities of loan sharks working under the cover of ‘Sponsors’.

Shortage of capital and equipment amongst women chrome miners put them at the mercy of loan sharks who masquerade as “sponsors” in order to dupe the women. The sponsors provide working capital to miners with chrome mining claims in exchange for a percentage of the chrome ore sales receipts.

The Sponsors are taking advantage of low functional literacy rates amongst women involved in the chrome mining business to defraud them using written contracts or agreements that give them control over the chrome ore produced from the ‘joint venture’.

When the chrome ore is graded, milled and sold to buyers, sponsors then disappear with the proceeds of chrome ore sales or underpay women chrome miners using dubious provisions in the written +agreements/contracts.

The elaborate scam was revealed during the Women in Mining dialogue meetings organized and facilitated by Centre for Conflict Management and Transformation in Zvishavane attended by women active in the chrome mining sector.

The dialogue meetings deliberated the gendered dimensions of inequalities in the mining sector. The issue of sponsors and contract mining agreements dominated the discussions
as women miners blamed their unscrupulous activities for the closure of an increasing number of small-scale chrome mining operations in the area.

In the dialogue sessions, women miners were advised to formally commit in writing the ‘sponsorship agreement’ with partners and scrutinize the written contracts
before appending their signatures.

CCMT,with the help of legal experts from Legal Resources Foundation, built the capacities
of women miners in negotiating and drafting contract/agreements. Women chrome
miners were advised to draft short term contracts that are renewed periodically to
avoid long-term commitments that expose them to price fluctuations. Women were
advised that sponsors have their rights ring-fenced in the mining agreements.

  • By Center For Conflict Management and Transformation

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