By Farayi Machamire
Gold output in Zimbabwe has generated close to a billion dollars in foreign currency receipts in the first six months of this year, the highest level in 10 years, thanks to higher production from small-scale miners, official data shows.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s single largest mineral export.
Statistics from Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the central bank which buys all the country’s gold output, showed that in the first six months of the year, gold exports had swelled to a more that 10-year high owing to a strong volumes growth.
A total of $650 million in gold exports were achieved in the six months period which is up 38 percent on the same period last year.
Leading financial research firm Equity Axis said in a commentary yesterday that this positive trajectory is supported by a strong artisanal miners contribution whose contribution to deliveries came from below 40 percent just three years ago to over 50 percent as at present.
Fidelity is paying small-scale and informal producers cash for deliveries as it seeks to encourage more gold to be sold via official channels. The central bank has said Zimbabwe could be losing up to $500 million through illegal gold exports.
Notably, produce by artisanal miners has been formalised thus reducing side marketing and support structure such as financing have also been put in place to assist small-scale miners.
“Gold is likely to remain a key export product for Zim into the foreseeable future although matters of taxing especially affecting large-scale miners need be review,” financial research firm Equity Axis has said.
Government has been setting up more gold buying centres to spout into the production of the country’s estimated 1,3 million artisanal miners.
All gold is bought and delivered to Fidelity Printers as the sole buying agent on behalf of government and also the sole refiner.
Government has been allocating over $100 million in its national budget to small scale miners in and plans are afoot to formalise their business through an Act of Parliament.
In addition, the Mining Industry Loan Fund is being bankrolled to the tune of $460 000 which would be used to buy equipment for the miners.
Zimbabwe expects to get 30 tonnes of gold this year from 24 tonnes in the prior year buoyed mainly by an expected increase from small scale miners, more than the 27 tonnes achieved in 1999. DailyNews