HARARE, May 21 (The Source) – Zimbabwe is on course to produce 16,7 tonnes of gold in 2015, an 8,7 percent increase from last year after increased output from custom millers, statistics published by the country’s mining chamber showed on Wednesday.
First quarter gold output was 4,18 tonnes, a 25 percent jump from 3,336tonnes recorded in the same period of 2014, chamber data showed.
“There is a marked increase of 121 percent in production from custom millers. The gold mobilization efforts by government could explain this development,” Zimbabwe’s chamber of mines said in an industry bulletin published on Wednesday.
“Projected annual gold production based on the three months of production is 16,721kg, giving projected growth in output of 8,7 percent.”
Zimbabwe’s gold output reached a peak of 29 tonnes in 1999, before plunging to 3 tonnes in 2008 at the height of an economic and political crisis that saw hyperinflation reach 500 billion percent by December of that year. Production has started to recover after the country informally dollarized in 2009 under a power-sharing government President Robert Mugabe formed with the opposition. Mugabe regained full control of government after another disputed poll in 2013.
Deliveries from artisanal and small-scale miners have improved on the back of increased monitoring and the government’s expansion of gold buying arrangements.
Large-scale producers also increased output by 7,4 percent in the quarter to 2,6 tonnes, but only four producers out of 15 recorded increases in production.
Platinum production declined by a marginal 0,63 percent to just over 3 tonnes in the quarter, attributable to low prices and the loss of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines’ (Zimplats) Bimha mine after a ground collapse.
Coal output jumped 56 percent to 2,4 million tonnes in the quarter while chrome and high carbon ferrochrome declined by 45 percent to 5,6 million tonnes and 18 percent to 32,000 tonnes, respectively. Nickel production was 5,3 percent up to 4,4 tonnes quarter-on-quarter.
The total value of mineral sales in the first quarter of 2015 was $453 million, 2 percent up on last year’s $444 million.
The chamber said no EPO (exclusive prospecting orders) had been processed in the first quarter, a situation it said was a concern because it slowed down exploration.
“To entice investors into mineral exploration, confidence-building measures are essential. Official announcement of Zimbabwe’s desire for exploration investments will have to be supported by policy measures and incentives that induce interest,” the chamber said.