Gold production up 15pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's gold deliveries went up 15,07 percent to 1 189,28 kg in July from 1 033,49 kg recorded in previous month.

Statistics from the African Development Bank (AfDB) revealed that gold deliveries by primary producers grew by 13,36 percent to 934,06 kg from 823,98 kg, while deliveries by small-scale producers grew by 21,82 percent to 255,22 kg from 209,50 kg in June 2013.

“On a year-on-year basis, total gold deliveries declined by 11,12 percent to 1 189,28 kg in July 2013 from
1 338,05 kg in July 2012,” said the regional bank in its August monthly economic review report.

“Gold deliveries by primary producers declined by 13,75 percent to 934,06 kg in July 2013 from 1 082,99 kg in July 2012 while deliveries by small-scale producers grew by 0,06 percent to 255,22 kg in July 2013 from 255,06 kg in July 2012,” said AfDB.

The country’s gold production has declined over the years due to operational constraints and poor incentives that have made investment into the industry a tough choice.

The southern African country at its peak in 1999 produced 27 tonnes of gold, but output declined to a record low of 3 000 kg in 2007 as a result of the economic recession and mine closures.

Zimbabwe’s continued decline in gold production saw the country being disqualified from the London Bullion Market Association in 2008 (LBMA).

LBMA accreditation certifies the quality of gold sold by members which must produce a minimum of 10 tonnes per annum to maintain membership.

Wellington Takavarasha, president The Zimbabwe Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Council (Zasmc) said gold remittances from small scale miners have declined from 17 tonnes nine years ago to around two tonnes owing to the arrests of small scale miners.

In 2006 government launched a programme called Operation Chikorokoza Chapera which saw 9 700 illegal gold miners out of the 1,5 million people involved in the informal sector being jailed.

Takavarasha noted that there was need to formalise the operations of the small scale-miners to boost remittances.

“In 2004 they produced 60 percent of the 29 tonnes of gold translating to 17,5 tonnes and in the following year they produced half of what the big mines produced,” he said adding that small scale miners in Zimbabwe remain marginalised yet their contribution is significant to the mainstream economy.

Takavarasha urged government to acknowledge the significant role they played in the country’s economic development.

“We want them to mine sustainably and the only way they can do that is for government to recognise their existence,” he said.

Takavarasha argued that the requirement for small- scale miners to produce Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports before they could be allowed to mine was hampering their operations due to the prohibitive costs of the exercise and the inability by players to comprehend the reports.

Consultants were charging around $4 000 to write an EIA report while miners faced closure of mines and fines of up to $5 000 if they did not comply.

Other challenges were related to the high cost of registration with $5 000 being fees for pegging mines while millers were required to pay $8 000.

“Out of the 429 registered millers, only 65 paid for the new licences,” said Takavarasha.

He also complained about lack of access to loans as most banks demanded collateral which the miners did not have.

High taxation was also affecting the miners who were expected to pay seven percent in royalties, two percent presumptive tax and commission to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

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