ZIMBABWE’S gold exports are increasing significantly with the country expected to have exported at least 30 tonnes by the end of the year, government’s advisor and mining sector coach on the Ease of Doing Business programme, Ashok Chakravarti has said.
By Hazel Ndebele
This comes after Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidakwa in May said the country’s mining sector would rake in US$3 billion in export earnings from US$2 billion realised last year.
Speaking at last week’s Southern African Political Economic Series policy discussion titled Zimbabwe’s Economy: How and When to Reintroduce a Viable Zimbabwe Currency, Chakravarti said ease of doing business reforms had contributed in the growing production and exports of gold.
“Just to give you a little bit of insight in the work that I am doing, I am the coach of the mining sector in the ease of doing business programme. Last year, we exported 22 tonnes of gold and measures are now being taken from the small scale sector to the large scale sector to actually have that figure at 30 tonnes by the end of this year,” he said.
Chakravarti said the country should look forward to export 40 tonnes of gold by 2018.
“The country has a lot of gold. The reasons for previous low production is that there were too many restrictions in terms of accessing permits, the makorokozas (Small scale miners) were regarded as criminals,” Chakravarti said. “However most of the measures have been put in place so certainly mining exports are going to become significantly higher, therefore the focus now should be on the currency situation and on how to improve liquidity and the economic crisis.”
Gold exports amounted to US$753,3 million in 2015, rose to US$913,4 million in 2016 and is envisioned to reach US$905,3 million this year.
At the beginning of the year, the country faced loss of production particularly in January and February owing to heavy rains that flooded most mines. Small-scale miners were the hardest hit by the rains forcing many to suspend operations, while big corporates also slowed down production.
Chidakwa in May told delegates at the Chamber of Mines annual general meeting that the rains had affected gold output, adding platinum was now leading in exports accounting for 42% of total exports. Gold comes second in total mining exports.
“The biggest shocker is chrome. Nickel is being overtaken by chrome. Today chrome sits on US$160 per tonne when it was US$35 a tonne last year,” he said.
Central bank statistics, presented by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe deputy governor, Kupukile Mlambo at the same event, show that from January to May 12 export shipments were US$852,6 million from US$668,5 million last year.
Gold exports for the first five months of the year grossed US$275,7 million from US$266,5 million, in the same period last year. Platinum exports stood at US$333,5 million up from US$282 million while diamond exports are down to US$27 million from $51 million last year.