THE Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) says gold miners are experiencing delays in foreign payments for raw materials used in gold production, amid fears this will affect output.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The fears come as gold output increased to 16 139kg in the nine months to September from 14 225kg produced in the same period last year.
CoMZ chief executive officer, Isaac Kwesu told NewsDay on Wednesday the delays in foreign payments for raw materials were mainly for explosives, which were essential in gold production.
“When you talk about foreign exchange that is generated in Zimbabwe, I think when you put tobacco and three or four minerals, they consume 90%. However, the usage of foreign exchange goes beyond mining requirements to the importation of fuel, grain among others,” he said.
“When you are surviving hand-to-mouth, sometimes you cannot avoid those challenges that RBZ [Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe] are encountering, but our plea is not to forget the sector that generates foreign exchange. I do not want to speak on behalf of the RBZ … I know we may be selfish, but we think we are justified to say we do not want to stop production and generating that foreign exchange.”
Kwesu said the chamber thinks “there may be other critical challenges affecting the nation, which may delay the release of foreign exchange”.
He said gold artisanal producers had been increasing their contribution to gold production at a faster rate than primary producers.
Gold artisanal miners contribute 45% of gold production, according to the central bank.
The results come as part of a mining review with the full scope of the sector to be released next month in the Mining Industry Survey 2016 report.
Importers of raw materials have complained in recent weeks that foreign payments to suppliers made through the real time gross settlement system were being delayed, with cash payments being processed faster.
Gold is the country’s biggest mineral resource, with as much as 13 million tonnes estimated to be in the ground, with nearly 586t mined over 36 years.
Despite the growth in gold production, the mining sector revenue only grew to $1,38 billion from $1,34bn last year due to commodity price shocks.
CoMZ said the gold sector required an investment of $600m in capital for further exploration of minerals and newer technology for the next five years.
Platinum had a 20% growth to 10 831kg from 9 040kg recorded last year.
Of all the minerals, diamonds experienced the biggest drop by 37% to 1,66 million carats compared to 2,62m carats over the same period last year.
Kwesu said this was due to some reorganising and restructuring of the sector, causing delays in diamond production.
In February, the government ordered nine diamond producers operating in Marange to cease operation, as they had failed to renew their licences.