MAPUTO– The Mozambican government is setting up marketing centres for gemstones and precious metals in order to capture for the legal sector the produce of small-scale artisanal miners which are currently sold informally and illegally.

The government initiative seeks to end the huge loss of money to the state which result from illegal sales of minerals. The first marketing centre has been established in the northern province of Nampula by the State-owned Mozambican Mining Exploration Company (EMEM) and a second will soon be opened in the central province of Manica.

The government has also set up trading posts for gems and precious metals in the northern port of Nacala and in Maputo. These posts are not yet operational, but are expected to be operational in the near future.

Speaking at the opening of the 7th National Gem, Mineral and Jewellery Fair (EXOGEMA 2018) here Wednesday, the chairperson of EMEM, Celestino Sitoe, explained that the trading posts will facilitate the export of precious minerals, and the artisanal producers can deal with all the necessary paperwork at the same place.

The minerals should contribute to the development of this country. What currently happens is that the sale of minerals is not following the legal circuit, and so the government has decided to find mechanisms to bring all the stakeholders in this marketing area into a legal format, he said.

The government holds regular mineral fairs in the expectation that they will encourage transactions in gems and precious metals on the formal market, and thus produce revenue for the state. It is recognized that, if this strategy is to work, the government must ensure that EMEM becomes a financially robust company, with the capacity to buy the products of artisanal miners.

Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Augusto Fernandes said the fairs should also be a meeting point for sharing good mining practices, seeking to protect the environment and to ensure that mining is done in a sustainable manner.

The government has been prioritising the legalisation of small scale mining, particularly the transformation of associations of miners into mining co-operatives, thus ensuring the sustainability of these activities, which provide the livelihoods of many Mozambican families, he added.

On display at the fair are minerals and gems such as marble, amazonite, scapolites, agates, amethysts, garnets, emeralds and rubies. Diamonds have also been discovered in Mozambique, but Fernandes said they will not be sold until the government has set up a unit to implement the Kimberley diamond certification scheme.