Michael Tome Business Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is considering increasing funding support to small-scale producers beyond the $40 million initially allocated under the Gold Development Initiative for the miners owing to the impressive deliveries from the sector.
The central bank has made support to small-scale gold producers, who accounted for 43 percent of bullion production in the half-year to June 2017, a priority given increased earnings due to firm global prices and the need to grow export earnings.
Gold is the single biggest mineral export earner, followed by platinum while the two strategic minerals, combined, account for over half of Zimbabwe’s export revenue. Government exports miners to anchor economic growth in the medium term.
The Government projects earnings from the sector are this year to reach $3,7 billion compared to just about $2 billion grossed from mining over the past two years.
In an interview with The Herald Business on the sidelines of the Minex’ Mining and Agriculture Interface conference held during the ongoing Agricultural Show, Fidelity Printers and Refiners General Manager Fradreck Kunaka said RBZ had promised to increase its funding support to the miners on account of strong gold output.
“RBZ initially availed $40 million for the Gold Development Initiative but due to good performance by the small-scale miners there are discussions to increase the fund to beyond $40 million and we have been promised this by RBZ,” Mr Kunaka said.
Mr Kunaka said Fidelity Life Printers had so far disbursed close to $35 million under the $40 million gold development initiative availed for small scale miners last year.
“The uptake of the gold development initiative has been encouraging, as we speak we have disbursed close to $35 million of the $40 million fund and the results have been encouraging,” he said.
The capacitation of small-scale miners by the RBZ through provision of funding support for procurement of equipment has produced positive results with the miners exceeding the first half and July targets by 500kg and 1 tonne, respectively.
“As of the first half of the year where we expected small-scale miners to have delivered 4 tonnes, but they have surpassed that by half a tonne and as of July they produced in excess of a tonne, so if that trend continues they will be in line to meet the 12 tonnes target set for small-scale miners this year,” Mr Kunaka said.
He also applauded small scale miners for timeous repayment of the loans extended.
“Some small-scale miners especially those who have installed the equipment bought by the fund have started paying back, and at the moment we have no reason to doubt their ability to payback,” the Fidelity Life Printers general manager said.
Deliveries from the mining sector have also improved significantly following decriminalisation of artisanal mining to encourage panners to sell their gold formally.
Gold output was expected at around 24,5 tonnes in 2017 from 23,2 tonnes in 2016 largely benefiting from favourable prices and continued support for the small miners.