The Sunday Mail
FIDELITY Printers and Refiners (FPR), an arm of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, spent US$350 million in purchasing gold in the first half of 2017 as deliveries rose 3,3 percent to 10 tonnes from the comparable period a year ago.
Output was, however, dented by incessant rains in January and February, which adversely impacted on both small and large-scale mining operations.
Government is targeting annual production of 28 tonnes this year — though this may now not be met — as the half-year haul stands at 9,6 tonnes. FPR general manager Mr Fradreck Kunaka told The Sunday Mail Business that large-scale miners contributed 53 percent of the deliveries, while small-scale miners brought in 47 percent.
“Total gold deliveries for the first half of the year increased by 3,3 percent to reach 9,9 tonnes when compared to 9,6 tonnes for the same period in 2016. The amount of money spent in purchasing the gold was around US$350 million.
“The low growth was mainly attributed to the heavy and incessant rains experienced in the first quarter of 2017. This is supported by the fact that of the 9,9 tonnes, 54 percent were delivered in the second quarter of 2017,” said Mr Kunaka.
On year-on-year sectoral deliveries growth, the small-scale sector grew by 15 percent from 4 tonnes in 2016 to achieve 4,6 tonnes, while large-scale miners recorded a 5 percent decline on 2016 deliveries of 5,6 tonnes.
Notably, large-scale miners delivered 5,3 tonnes in the first half of this year. Mr Kunaka said gold deliveries would be significant this year, spurred by anticipated output from small-scale miners who benefitted from the US$40 million Gold Development Initiative Fund.
“The small-scale mining sector is set to record significant growth in the last half of 2017 as beneficiaries of the US$40 million Gold Development Initiative Fund commence production having spent the first half of the year refurbishing and putting up mining and processing plants at their various operations.
“Despite low production levels in the first half of 2017, the deficit will be significantly reduced in the second half of the year to end the year at the set target or marginally lower than target,” said Mr Kunaka.
FPR said more than 100 miners had benefited from the fund. Although The Sunday Mail Business could not ascertain how much has been disbursed so far, FPR said significant resources were still available for miners.
From a peak output of 27,1 tonnes in 1999, Zimbabwe’s gold deliveries progressively fell to 3,6 tonnes in 2008 — and now they are rising again, reaching 20 tonnes in 2015.