'Zim ready to join London Bullion Market'

HARARE - Zimbabwe is now ready to re-join the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA) after producing more than 10 tonnes of gold annually in the past two years, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.

The country has, for the past six years, been struggling to gain re-entry into the elite group of gold producers in the world after it was disqualified from LBMA in 2008 when production dropped to an all-time low of three tonnes — a figure far below the mandatory annual production of 10 tonnes required by the association.

Chinamasa told journalists last week that Zimbabwe has been working hard to increase production in the mining sector.

“For instance in the gold sector we put in a policy regime that has seen us now qualifying to be a member of the London Bullion Market, because we were able to buy, refine and export 10 tonnes of gold. In fact, in the end we did 15 tonnes,” he said.

“And we are optimistic that if some of the measures we have taken especially to do with the $100 million equipment facility for the artisanal miners comes into scheme we would see a quantum leap in terms of gold production,” added Chinamasa.

The LBMA is an international trade association, representing the London market for gold and silver bullion which has a global client base.

This includes the majority of the gold-holding central banks, private sector investors, mining companies, producers, refiners and fabricators.

The country’s bullion production took a dive from almost 11 tonnes in 2006 to three tonnes in 2008.

Zimbabwe’s ouster also followed numerous production problems, financial constraints, a worsening power crisis and the non-payment of a huge debt owed to producers by Fidelity Printers and Refineries, a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe subsidiary, which, at the time, was the sole buyer and exporter of gold in the country.

Chinamasa said government was now working on making the diamond sector productive as he had been collecting “next to nothing” from the precious mineral sector.

“We are now working on the diamond sector, as you may know I am collecting next to nothing from that sector but at least we have identified the challenges. We are facing them head on through first consolidation of the sector to increase transparency and accountability,” he said.

“And when those measures are implemented….we should start seeing results at the end of the day,” he added.


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