Gold earnings decline 6,5pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's gold earnings slumped by 6,5 percent to $502 million in the 10 months to October 2014 from $534 million achieved in prior comparable period.

According to the latest Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) statistics, the decline in gold revenue is despite an increase in the yellow metal’s production to 12 363,73 kg from 11 758,76 kg in the period under review.

This comes as high production costs, limited long-term capital and depressed global metal prices continue to threaten the viability of the gold mining industry.

However, the yellow metal remained the country’s cash cow constituting 32 percent of the $1,56 billion in total minerals earnings, which marginally decreased by 5,6 percent from $1,66 billion achieved in same period last year.

Last month, government suspended operations of 11 gold millers for non-compliance with rules on production and marketing of the commodity.

Walter Chidakwa, Mines minister, said the move was on the back of a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) exchange control compliance monitoring and enforcement operation conducted over the last couple of months.

The operation revealed that numerous small-scale gold producers were in contravention of set procedures.

Of the 11 gold millers, Tarford Milling Centre in Kadoma was not recording production and did not follow-up on the customers to ensure the gold was sold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR).

Timsite Custom Milling in Bindura had records of production that were not consistent with sales to FPR while St Kilda 5 Mill in Pickstone, the owners were allowing youths to take their gold after milling.

Other suspended mines include Croco 1 and 2 in Esigodini, Willow Ash Mine in Fort Rixon, Makwe 24 Mine in Gwanda, Flora Mine in Filabusi, M Mubayiwa Milling and Munyati River Ranch Mine both in Munyati, Huggies10 and Hollies 6 in Kadoma.

“The restorations of mining operations of these culprits will thus, follow laid down processes of compliance,” Chidakwa said.

He added that some of the cases included failure to keep mining records as required by law while some were found guilty of engaging in illegal gold sales.

Chidakwa said the measures were meant to enforce compliance and set a precedent in the gold sector.

Plans are underway to introduce a new mining tax regime targeted at plugging mineral and revenue leakages as well as attract investors into the extractive sector. Apart from gold, platinum production fell to 10 367,21 kg from 10 833,36 kg while the value of the white metal mined in the 10 months was $421,3 million, down from $464,7 million.

Palladium output was almost flat at 8449,05 kg compared to 8352,61 kg in prior comparable period.

Its value marginally increased from $169,14 million to $190,28 million.

At least 14068,11 tonnes of nickel valued at $172 million were produced, up from 11 328,20 tonnes valued at $130 million.

Coal output decreased to 2,7 million tonnes valued at $41,2 million from 3,8 million tonnes produced valued at $155,4 million in prior comparable period.

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