The Sunday Mail
Africa Moyo —
GOLD deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) climbed 15 percent last year to 21,4 tonnes from 18,6 tonnes a year earlier as small-scale miners shored up production.
Deliveries are now six tonnes shy of the all-time record high of 27 tonnes registered in 1999. The figure is however lower than the 24-tonne target set by Government.
Output is forecast to rise to more than 22 tonnes when the contribution from platinum-group metals’ (PGM) producers is factored in.
Platinum miners directly export their gold when they send the matte for refining in South Africa.
Statistics obtained by The Sunday Mail Business last week show that deliveries from small-scale producers rose by 2,2 tonnes or 29 percent to 9,7 tonnes from 7,5 tonnes a year ago.
On the other hand, primary producers (large-scale) increased deliveries by about 0,7 tonnes last year to 11,8 tonnes from 11,1 tonnes in 2015.
In the first quarter of last year, small-scale producers delivered 2,03 tonnes, before dropping to 1,95 tonnes in the second quarter.
Output, however, recovered in the third quarter to 2,5 tonnes and 3,2 tonnes in the third quarter.
But deliveries from primary producers progressively rose from 2,7 tonnes in the first quarter to 3 tonnes and 3,15 tonnes in the second and third quarter, respectively.
Fourth quarter production slid to 3 tonnes. FPR could not say the reason for the marginal drop in deliveries, especially at a time when small-scale miners were thriving.
Small-scale miners continue to show their ability to contribute immensely to gold production and deliveries.
In October 2016, small-scale gold producers accounted for 52 percent of the 1,94 tonnes delivered. Last year, FPR general manager Mr Fradreck Kunaka said there was “need for the relevant stakeholders to speed up the formalisation of the sector for the benefit of the country”.
“The country stands to benefit immensely from small scale gold production only if all producers are able to freely dispose of the gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners,” said Mr Kunaka.
Debate is currently raging on the need to speedily formalise the small-scale mining sector to significantly increase gold production.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya has already engaged the Ministries of Mines and Mining Development, and Home Affairs to find a lasting solution to the challenges faced by small-scale miners who continue to be arrested by police for possessing gold without licences, even when they would be selling to FPR.
Gold deliveries have been rising each year, from a measly 3 tonnes in 2008 to 18,6 tonnes in 2015, and a further rise to almost 21,5 tonnes last year.
FPR has attributed the rise in gold deliveries to incentives given to the gold mining sector which include reduction of royalties and enforcement of compliance.
The country generated about US$1,3 billion from gold exports last year and more is expected this year if bottlenecks in availability of funding and small-scale miners’ challenges are minimised.
The gold mining sector, together with the tobacco industry, is one of the major revenue generating sectors for the country.