Africa Moyo Business Reporter
Gold miners have hauled 21 tonnes in seven months to July 31 this year, shredding all records set since 2009, spurred by the exploits of small-scale miners who have delivered 13,5 tonnes.
Large-scale miners, for all their mechanisation, have delivered 7,3 tonnes up to end of last month.
This means small-scale miners have contributed 64,9 percent to gold deliveries so far.
Tellingly, the gold output so far is merely 4 tonnes shy of last year’s total gold deliveries which were pegged at 24,8 tonnes.
This year’s target is 30 tonnes.
Both small-scale and large-scale gold miners delivered about 7,3 tonnes in last two months compared to almost 6,3 tonnes recorded in April and May as miners ramped up production.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) general manager Mr Fradreck Kunaka, yesterday said up to July 31, gold deliveries marginally surpassed 20,8 tonnes.
“Gold deliveries from both small-scale miners and primary producers (large-scale miners) increased in the month of July as compared to the same period last year,” said Mr Kunaka.
“Total tonnage recorded for small-scale miners rose to 2,46 tonnes from 1,12 tonnes in 2017 while that of primary producers rose to 1,09 tonnes from 0,96 tonnes.
“This can be attributed to the support being availed to gold producers through the Gold Development Initiative Fund (GDIF) being rolled out by Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) on behalf of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).”
The RBZ has increased the gold support facility to $150 million from the $80 million, which was disbursed by December 31 last year after realising the impact that the fund had on output.
As at December last year, $60 million had been disbursed to small-scale miners while $20 million was snapped up by large-scale miners.
So far, miners have drawn down $100 million from the Gold Development Initiative Facility.
The loan facility is primarily for the acquisition of gold mining plant and equipment in order to enhance gold production by miners, mainly small-scale who have previously complained of lack of funding to mechanise their operations.
Representatives of small-scale miners say loans of up to $20 000 would be critical as they help them acquire machinery such as compressors.
The absence of key equipment causes a lot of downtime as miners spend time looking to hire machinery from colleagues and some companies, eating into their profitability.
Since January, output has generally been rising, with just over 2,5 tonnes being delivered; 2 tonnes in February; 2,7 tonnes (March); about 2,9 tonnes in April; 3,4 tonnes in May; 3,6 tonnes in June and 3,5 tonnes last month.
Small-scale miners have emerged as the biggest contributors to gold output.
Last year, they delivered 53 percent of the 24,8 tonnes of gold.
In 2014, the gold sector generated $687 million in terms of export earnings before rising to $737 million in 2015 and $914 million in 2016.
Zimbabwe boasts of 13 million tonnes of gold, the second largest in the world, with only 580 tonnes having been mined since 1980.
Gold production peaked at 27,1 tonnes in 1999 but plunged to 3,5 tonnes in 2008 at the height of economic challenges.