Zimbabwe gold deliveries fell 17% to 1.668 tonnes in May 2021 from 2.015 tonnes achieved in the prior comparative period owing to unfavourable policies and smuggling.
In April this year, gold deliveries declined 5% to 1.38 tonnes from 1.46 tonnes recorded in the same period in 2020. The only positive output was recorded in March this year, during which deliveries improved 2% to 1.80 tonnes from 1.77 tonnes.
Despite the slowing down of rainfall the gold output continues to fall each month. This means that Zimbabwe could struggle to reach its target of 100 tonnes per year by 2023.
The country’s sole buyer and marketer of gold, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) acting general manager, Peter Magaramombe, told Business Times that Covid-19 induced lockdowns have affected mining as accessing raw materials remained a challenge under the restrictions.
“The gold deliveries to Fidelity were 1.668 tonnes in May 2021 against 2.015 tonnes delivered to us during the same period last year. The decline on deliveries from the small scale sector is attributed to the Covid-19 lockdown/restrictions occasioned by the second wave in this country.
“And also the heavy rains the country received up to February which caused flooding in a number of mining sites rendering extraction of ores difficult,” Magaramombe said.
He said as the weather gets drier, output from the small scale sector is expected to pick up.
During the period under review, small scale miners delivered 0. 783 tonnes while primary producers delivered 0.884 tonnes to FPR.
Overall, gold deliveries for the first five months of the year fell 24% to reach 7.028 tonnes from 9.195 tonnes during the January to May period in 2019.
In January 2021, from the output of 0.997 tonnes, primary producers delivered 0.64 tonnes against small scale who managed 0.355 tonnes, in February 2021, the small scale extracted 0.56 tonnes and primary producers delivered 0.61 tonnes.
Recently, former FPR general manager, Fradreck Kunaka said the country could be losing over 30 tonnes yearly valued at US$1.7bn due to smuggling unfavourable mining policies.
Gold mining experts said the country should totally liberalise the gold sector to combat smuggling and compete at the highest level with foreign gold buyers.
Gold Miners Association of Zimbabwe chief executive Irvine Chinyenze said there is reluctance from the authorities’ side to curb leakages.
“The authorities know the unfriendly policies they put in place but are not acting upon it which is a cause for concern
“The country wants to achieve 100 tonnes per year within the next two years but with high taxes, costs and lack of funding tells that the country is not ready to achieve this target,” Chinyenze said.
Zimbabwe’s gold output plummeted 31% to 19.052 tonnes in 2020 from 27.66 tonnes recorded in 2019 due to Covid-19 effects, delay in payments and low foreign currency retention levels.