Oliver Kazunga Bulawayo Bureau
ZIMBABWE recorded its highest gold deliveries in the year to date, after May produced about two tonnes compared to 1,6 tonnes in January, data from Fidelity Printers and Refineries show.Latest statistics from Fidelity Printers, the sole gold buyer since 2015, show that in May primary producers and small-scale miners had a combined delivery of 1 920,3 kilogrammes.
Of that figure, deliveries by primary producers were the highest at 1 045,3kg while small-scale miners delivered 875,9kg. In January, primary producers and small-scale miners had a combined total of 1 636,5kg, while in February deliveries declined to 1 454,9kg.
In March gold deliveries to Fidelity steadily rose to 1 545,4kg before receding to 1 489,3kg in April.
The miners, in the first quarter of the year produced a combined total of 4 636,8kg while statistics from the country’s sole gold buyer show that 3 409,7kg have so far been delivered in the second quarter.
Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation first vice president Mr Ishmael Kaguru said output from small-scale gold miners was early this year hampered by the incessant rains which saw some of the mines becoming waterlogged.
“Productivity by small-scale miners has largely been affected by the incessant rains the country received particularly in the first quarter. As a result of the excessive rains, productivity was affected because our members’ mines were inaccessible due to water logging,” he said.
In January, small-scale miners delivered 713,5 kg while in February the production level declined to 686,6 kg before dropping further to 682,8kg in March. Output by the small-scale gold producers in April maintained a downward trend at 622,3kg before picking up at 875,9 kg in May.
“Despite the downward trend that we experienced in terms of productivity, we expect the position will shift to reflect an upward trend because of the support that we have received from the Government through Fidelity Printers and Refineries as far as funding is concerned. The miners have also secured loans under the $20 million gold development facility from Fidelity Printers,” said Mr Kaguru.
The Government this year is targeting national gold output of 24.5 tonnes from about 21 tonnes achieved in 2016.
Mr Kaguru said the target was achievable based on the support the miners were getting from the Government.
According to the 2017 first quarter bulletin released by the Treasury, the mining sector is anticipated to generate about $3 billion in export earnings this year anchored on the rebound in most international mineral prices including chrome.
“Projected growth of about 5,1 percent is being driven largely by key minerals of gold, platinum group of metals, chrome and nickel. Notwithstanding lower output for some
minerals such as coal, gold and diamonds, the first quarter saw a huge lip in chrome production.
“Temporary setbacks for gold were on account of flooding due to incessant rains, with output recoveries anticipated during the second quarter,” reads part of the report.
During the period January to March 2017, cumulative gold output stood at 4 637kg, marginally lower than the 4 711kg produced during the same period last year.
“However, the share of SMEs continues to rise, with the 2017 first quarter output at 2 083kg against 2 033kg of the same period in 2016,” said Treasury.
Production is anticipated to pick up from the second quarter, to give annual output consistent with the total projection for the year of 24 500kg.
“The anticipated increase is in view of the ongoing support to SMEs with an additional $20 million small-scale mining facility having been availed for equipment, coupled with the 5 percent export incentive scheme.
“Furthermore, the expected resumption of riverbed mining in the second quarter of the year is also expected to drive up production,” said the report.