ZIMBABWE’S gold deliveries to Fidelity Refiners and Printers rose to 17,3 tonnes in the 10 months to October compared to 14,8 tonnes during the corresponding period last year, buoyed by small-scale producers, official figures show.
By Bernard Mpofu
According to statistics from the Mines ministry, production of the precious metal has been on an upward trend due to a cocktail of measures that have resulted in producers ramping up production. The latest figures exclude the precious metal extracted from platinum group metals which contribute up to four tonnes of gold annually.
Large-scale miners such as Metallon, the country’s top gold producer, contributed 9,8 tonnes while small-scale producers accounted for the remainder.
Small scale miners last year produced 5,9 tonnes in the same period under review while large-scale producers contributed 8,9 tonnes.
While international commodity prices have generally remained subdued over the recent past mainly on account of weakening growth prospects in China, the world’s largest metals consumer, government has introduced measures and incentives to stimulate production.
Presenting the Monetary Policy Statement in September, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya said government had secured a US$20 million gold development initiative facility to support local small-scale and artisanal miners.
“The Reserve Bank has secured US$20 million for Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) to support small-scale and artisanal mining operations in order to increase gold production in the country,” Mangudya said.
“With underground gold reserves estimated to be around 13 million tonnes, Zimbabwe’s rich gold reserves are clearly under-exploited. Only 586 tonnes have been officially mined over the past 36 years from 1980 to August 2016. There is therefore great scope to vigorously promote the mining of gold across the country in order to liquefy the economy.”
Mangudya said while gold output has registered steady growth this year, more measures are needed such as the reduction in custom milling fees.
The sector has registered a sharp decline in millers to 51 when government hiked the fees to US$8 000 compared to 485 millers when the custom milling fees stood at US$2 000.
“The challenge is that there are many millers who cannot afford to pay the required fee of US$8 000 but are still operating and selling their gold on the black market and/or smuggling gold out of the country,” he said.
Experts also say government should also reduce other regulatory fees to improve operating efficiencies in gold production.