The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines has appealed to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to prioritise crucial external payments for the mining sector and cut delays which have impacted negatively on mineral production.
Zimbabwe, which is using the United States dollar as its chief currency, is battling cash shortages that have been triggered mainly by high imports and externalisation.Last year, the chamber warned that the country risked losing up to four months of mineral production for the full year due to the prevailing cash shortages which have led to delays in processing external payments.
Chamber economist Pardon Chitsuro told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Finance that delays of up to 12 weeks were being experienced in processing foreign payments.
“We have been facing a crippling foreign payments gridlock with delays of up to 12 weeks impacting negatively on production,” he said.
“We appeal to the RBZ to prioritise the mining industry and to process foreign payments expeditiously so that the industry can contribute meaningfully to the economy.”
The loss of output would further dent earnings and add strain on a sector which has been battling low international commodity prices.
Mr Chitsuro also urged the Government to assist the sector to secure long term affordable lines of credit for capital requirements, estimated at around $4 billion in the next five years.
Mining accounts for more than half of Zimbabwe’s export earnings.
Statistics show that the mining industry has generated at least $12,5 billion in export earnings between 2009 and 2015.According to the chamber, most mines in Zimbabwe are operating at between 60 and 85 percent of their capacity.