HARARE, May 17 (The Source) – Zimbabwe recorded a 21 percent increase in gold production to five tonnes in the first quarter of the year after power supplies improved, figures released by the Chamber of Mines on Tuesday have shown.
Chief executive of the chamber, Isaac Kwesu, said more stable power supplies and higher deliveries from artisanal miners — who accounted for 37 percent of total gold produced during the quarter — where behind the inceased output.
“Energy remains a challenge though we have seen some improvements which also may be one of the reasons why output increased in the first quarter,” Kwesu told journalists at a press conference ahead of the chamber’s annual meeting in Victoria Falls later this week.
“We anticipate that the energy sector remains fragile. We need to grow the energy sector so that we can sustain the growth of the mining sector.”
The chamber last December facilitated the importation of 300 megawatts from South Africa’s Eskom.
Small-scale producers delivered 1,876 tonnes compared to 1,215 tonnes during the same period last year.
“Gold, which benefited from both firm price and increased output, recorded a 17 percent increase in value to $189 million,” said Kwesu, adding that the country was on course to achieve the 24 tonnes target by year-end if current production levels were maintained.
Secondary producers, which include Unki, Mimosa and Zimplats, registered a 33 percent increase in production to 493 kg while output from large producers grew five percent to 2,735 kg.
During the first quarter of the year, prices for all minerals declined, with the exception of gold, platinum and iridium.
“Total at mine value for the minerals produced in the quarter declined by 3.4 percent to $419 million compared to the same period last year.”
Platinum production during the quarter was up 43 percent to 4,3 tonnes from 3 tonnes last year.
Earnings from the mineral also rose six percent to $108 million compared to $102 million in the same quarter last year. Iridium recorded a 38 percent increase in earnings to $1, 7 million from 1,671 tonnes.
Nickel, whose production was up 10 percent to 4, 8 tonnes, was among the hardest hit minerals recording a 31 percent decline in earnings to $30 million.