ZIMBABWE’s gold output, the country’s largest single forex earner, for February 2023 was unchanged flat at 1,89 tonnes compared to the previous month, as heavy rains which characterised many parts of the country weighed on mining activities, especially among small-scale miners.
According to Fidelity Gold Refinery (FGR), small-scale miners continue to dominate Zimbabwe’s gold production after delivering 1, 4 tonnes of gold during the period under review, about 60 percent of the 1,89 tonnes output.
However, the 1,89 tonnes of the precious yellow metal produced in February 2023 represents a 16,2 percent dip from the 2,26 tonnes delivered in the same period last year.
Primary producers accounted for about 40 percent of the February bullion output after delivering 0, 8 tonnes in the course of that month.
FGR earlier this year projected total gold deliveries to increase by 13,4 percent on the cumulative output for 2022 to 40 tonnes in 2023, as the sector continues to implement initiatives that enhance gold mobilisation.
Gold is Zimbabwe’s major mineral export, followed by platinum, and combined the two strategic minerals account for over half of Zimbabwe’s export revenue.
Deliveries from the mining sector have been improving significantly over the past few years, especially after the decriminalisation of artisanal mining to encourage panners to sell their gold formally.
The mining industry is projected to play a pivotal role in the attainment of the country’s vision of becoming an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030 as enshrined in the National Development Strategy1 (NDS1 2020-2025).
Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive Wellington Takavarasha attributed the flat performance to the ongoing rainy season.
“Deliveries have subsided because we are in the rainy season, there were incessant rains in the month of December (2022) and January (2023), so accessibility has been an issue because the pits have been
waterlogged and the ground is wet so mining is very dangerous at the moment, especially for small-scale miners,” said Takavarasha.
He, however, said he was positive about reaching the 2023 projected deliveries given the improved payment arrangements and the fact the rainy season is coming to an end.
“There has been great improvement in terms of cash payments at Fidelity, miners are being paid promptly in cash as they deliver.
“Now that rains have lowered, we are going to have improved deliveries,” he said.
The Government is working to increase gold production through the resuscitation of closed mines, opening new ground for pegging, and capacitating small-scale miners while a gold development policy will be induced and gold service centres established.
Stakeholders in the sector are also pushing for formalisation of artisanal and small-scale mining to boost output.
Although Zimbabwe has witnessed improved deliveries, it is widely believed the deliveries fall short of Zimbabwe’s potential due to rampant side marketing, which calls for enhanced compliance enforcement in the sector.