Gold panners take over

Ngoni Chanakira

GOLD panners have virtually taken over as the country’s major suppliers of Zimbabwe’s most important mining product.



“>In an interview Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono said 65% of what was achieved last year had already been accounted for so far.


About US$120 million has already been earned from gold sales.


“Every month gold deliveries are increasing,” he told businessdigest. “Ever since we tightened up on the deliveries and opened up the sector we discovered that two thirds of minerals and monies were not being accounted for. There was lack of accountability which is a very fertile breeding ground for corruption.”


Figures released by the RBZ for the period ending May 19 show that in 2003 a total of 12 048,4 kilogrammes of gold were produced in Zimbabwe.


Of this amount small-scale producers contributed 1 253,1 kilogrammes of gold while large-scale sector produced 10 995,3 kg.


For the period ending May 19, 2004 however a total of 7 837,05 kg of gold was delivered.


Of this amount small-scale producers delivered 4 304,94 kg of gold while their large-scale counterparts have brought in 3 532,11 kg.


“Since we allowed ‘Makorokoza’ to become a part of our gold delivering sector we have seen a huge increase in gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refineries (Pvt) Ltd,” Gono said.


“The figures are beginning to change dramatically with the small-scale sector now bringing in more gold than the major players.”

Makorokoza is a term used for illegal gold panners.


In his monetary policy statement review in April Gono said gold panning and the growing activities of what had come to be known as “Makorokozas”, while having an adverse bearing on the environment, had become a means of sustenance to the majority of young Zimbabweans.


He said there was, therefore, need for a long-term strategy to be put in place for these activities to be re-oriented into more formal and sustainable mining operations.


He said as a short-term first step in this direction, the RBZ and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development would provide special licences to designated agents who would buy gold in areas where these operations were concerned.


“This arrangement should reduce grey market activities in the precious metal,” Gono said.


In 2004 small-scale gold production gradually increased.


For example in January 2003 the small-producers delivered 75,6 kg of gold to the market as compared to 926,4 kg in January this year.


Large-scale producers on the other hand for the same period delivered 1 069,5 kg as compared to 852,7 kg in January this year.


Small-scale producers delivered 855,6 kg, 903,0 kg and 932,6 kg for February, March and April respectively, while last year they brought in 51,6 kg, 117,3 kg and 83,3 kg respectively.


Large-scale producers on the other hand for the same period brought in 632,7 kg, 932,8 kg and 715,0 kg for February, March and April in 2004, down from 824,7 kg, 871,6 kg and 960,6 kg for the same period last year.


“This year the situation has changed and small-scale producers have overtaken their large-scale counterparts,” Gono said.


To date small-scale producers have delivered 4 304,94 kg of gold while the large-scale sector has brought in 3 532,11 kg.

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