Oliver Kazunga, Acting Business Editor
ZIMBABWE’S gold sales increased by 40 percent to $1,4 billion last year from $1 billion in 2017, statistics from Fidelity Printers and Refiners show.
Fidelity, which is the country’s sole gold buying unit and is superintended by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe also indicated that during the period under review, primary producers and small scale miners produced a congregated output of 33,2 tonnes.
In 2017, the country produced 24,8 tonnes of yellow metal.
Last year, small scale miners continued to post a strong performance which jumped to 21, 7 tonnes while primary producers accounted for 11, 5 tonnes.
During the year under review, gold producers surpassed the 30 tonnes that was set by the Government and more effort should be put in capacitating the miners to attain the 100 tonnes per year projection in the next five years.
The 100 tonnes target was in line with the Vision 2030 by which Zimbabwe should be an upper middle income economy.
As the country seeks to increase gold output, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has over the years come up with initiatives aimed at boosting production in the sector.
Such initiatives include the gold support facility which has been increased from $74 million, disbursed to 255 entities in 2017 to $150 million.
In 2017, the gold support facility together with the periodic onsite monitoring by the Gold Mobilisation Technical Committee significantly contributed to improved gold deliveries to Fidelity Printers from 21,439 tonnes in 2016 to 24,843 tonnes with small-scale miners accounting for 53 percent of the total output.
Fidelity Printers has improved its gold mobilisation capacity, amid indications that it will soon be buying the yellow metal directly from miners as it desperately seeks to arrest leakages.
It is hoped that the gold mobilisation strategy will enhance accountability and stem illegal trade of the mineral.
In the 2019 budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, announced a raft of measures aimed at enhancing performance of the mining sector.
The measures include reviewing surrender requirements to ensure continued production across all key minerals; dealing with mining claims held for speculative purposes as well as resuscitating closed and opening of new mines with potential.
Zimbabwe holds the second largest gold reserves per square kilometre in the whole world with 13 million tonnes of gold underground but since Independence, the country has mined only 580 tonnes.