Gold output rises: Small-scale miners overtake big corporates

gold bar

Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
SMALL-scale miners’ gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners rose to 1 045 kilogrammes in June 2017 from 874.9kgs in May surpassing monthly output by primary producers for the first time in six months this year.

Official figures from Fidelity Printers and Refiners, Zimbabwe’s sole gold buyer, show that between January and May, primary producers have been dominating the monthly gold production statistics.

Both small-scale miners and large mining houses in June produced 1 954kgs, the   highest figure so far since the beginning of the year.

In January, primary producers delivered 922.2kgs of gold while small-scale miners delivered 713.5kgs.

In February, both primary producers and small-scale miners’ deliveries declined to 768.3kgs and 686.6kgs respectively largely due to the heavy rains which clogged most of the mines.

In March, primary producers delivered 862.5kgs while small-scale miners produced 682.8kgs.

Large mining houses in March delivered 866.9kgs of gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners while small-scale players delivered 622.3kgs.

The following month saw primary gold producers increasing output to 1 045.3kgs while small-scale miners produced 874.9kgs.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Miners’ Federation (ZMF) spokesperson, Mr Dosman Mangisi, whose organisation represents the interests of small-scale mining activities, attributed the increased gold output to improved mineral processing technology by their members.

“Of late, the small-scale mining gold sector has increased the usage of on site mineral processing technology, which has reduced the downtime by the miners.

“Such mineral technology includes hammer mills and some of our members now have mining sites unlike in the past. Then, miners had to take the mineral ore to a custom milling plant where productive hours are lost in queues waiting to have the gold processed,” he said.

Small-scale gold miners this year target to produce 12 tonnes of the yellow metal up from 9.8 tonnes last year.

Mr Mangisi said gold production by small-scale miners was expected to continue on an upward trajectory going forward as more and more miners adopt onsite mineral processing technology.

He said small-scale miners have in some instances funded themselves to acquire mining equipment to boost productivity.

The ZMF spokesperson said their members were also boosting gold production using funding under the $40 million Gold Development Initiative although small-scale miners were yet to feel the impact of the initiative.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe launched the $40 million Gold Development Initiative with a view to boosting output through securing funding at 10 percent interest for small-scale miners so that they can procure specific mining machinery from local manufacturers.

At the recently held Mine Entra expo in Bulawayo, Fidelity Printers and Refiners manager responsible for refineries operations Mr David Mpofu indicated that they have so far disbursed $30 million under the Gold Development Initiative to 179 small-scale miners across the country.

He said as a result of the Gold Development Initiative, deliveries at Fidelity Printers had increased by over 400 kgs in June.

As part of efforts to see continued improvement in gold production in the country, the Government is initiating funding packages of about $50 million that would be supported by Sakunda Energy.

The Government is also pursuing other funding mechanisms under the China XCMG loan facility and the South Korean loan facility.

@okazunga

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