GOLD deliveries have increased by an average of 50% this year due to the plugging of leakages of the precious mineral, with focus now on improving the supply side for small scale gold miners, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa has said.
Mineral leakages have cost the country billions of dollars in lost revenue, reducing official gold sales from 27 tonnes in 1999 to the current average of 12 tonnes per year.
In an interview recently, Chidhakwa said the ministry has registered an increase in gold deliveries after strengthening monitoring mechanisms countrywide with the assistance of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
“In January we registered growth of 100% (in gold deliveries), in February 75%; generally it has gone up by 50%,” Chidhakwa said. “This is not new gold, but gold that has always been produced but was lost through leakages.”
Chidhakwa said after the plugging of leakages, the next step is to capitalise small scale miners to increase gold production.
“For me, this is the first stage of what we need to do. The second stage is to capitalise the small scale miners. If we capitalise our small scale miners adequately, we should have much better returns because they are flexible.”
He said small scale miners are currently using basic instruments such as baskets to extract gold ore, adding that the miners need kits worth an estimated US$30 000 which include a jackhammer, compressor and generator to help them significantly increase output and gold deliveries.
Most of the 318 milling plants dotted around the country were underutilised due to the supply side deficit of miners, Chidhakwa said.
“This increase that we have is simply a product of compliance, but what we want is an increase that is actually based on gold production,”he said.