Zim gold earnings up 3,4pc

HARARE - Zimbabwe's gold earnings were up 3,4 percent in the first quarter to $275 million, after realising a 4,8-tonne output, official figures show.

Data from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) attributed the earnings improvement to firming international prices.

“Gold prices, however, recorded a marginal gain as the Fed later indicated a dovish approach in raising interest rates going forward.

“Resultantly, the yellow metal’s price firmed by a marginal 0,07 percent to $1 234,04/ounce in March 2017, from an average of $1 233,16/ounce recorded in the previous month,” the apex bank said.

Zimbabwe — which has set a 28-tonne output target for 2017 — has been promoting gold production by the small-scale gold miners as they have been accounting for over 40 percent of the total output since 2015 when government decriminalised artisanal mining.

Gold deliveries from the small-scale sector stood at 7 532 kg in 2015 up from 3 938 kg in 2014, representing 40 percent of national gold deliveries. In 2016, gold deliveries from small-scale producers surged to 9 680kg.

Miners have also been benefiting from a five percent export incentive scheme, which has helped boost production according to the RBZ.

Meanwhile, the country is also planning to remove royalties in the gold sector as a way of boosting production of the yellow metal, according to Mines minister Walter Chidakwa.

The minister said he has consulted with his counterparts in government to be allowed to introduce the reforms and make the country one of the biggest gold producers in Africa, on the condition that the sector achieves a 28-tonne output this year.

Last year, the country produced 23 tonnes of the yellow metal and earned over $914 million in export receipts after missing its 24-tonne gold output projection on the back of cash and payment glitches experienced in September 2016 by artisanal miners.

RBZ subsidiary, Fidelity Printers and Refiners has also increased the number of registered gold buyers to 344 agents, as the apex bank moves to help the country achieve its 28-tonne projection.

In the first quarter alone, the RBZ had allocated over $5 million in cash for the sole purpose of buying gold.

However, international mining forecasters say gold will be on the retreat in 2017 on rosier global economic growth and tighter policy from the Federal Reserve, which will hike rates twice, according to the most accurate bullion forecaster tracked by Bloomberg in the third quarter.

The metal continues to be one of the key minerals in Zimbabwe accounting for 47 percent of mineral exports in 2016, up from 40 percent in 2015, employing in excess of 25 percent of formal employment and over 300 000 involved in artisanal gold mining.

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