Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) — a gold buying arm of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) — is optimistic that the targeted annual gold output of 28 tonnes could be achieved by year-end driven by a strong performance in the second half led by small-scale miners. This comes as both small and large-scale miners hauled 9,9 tonnes in the first half.
Output could have been slightly high were it not for the incessant rains that flooded some mines, especially those operated by small-scale miners between January and February. At 9,9 tonnes in the first half of 2017, gold deliveries were 3,3 percent up compared to 9,6 tonnes achieved in the same period last year.
FPR shelled out $350 million in the purchase of the almost 10 tonnes of gold. Mr Fradreck Kunaka, the FPR general manager, told Business Weekly that small-scale miners who benefited from the US$40 million Gold Development Initiative Fund, are expected to play a leading role in gold production in the second half.
“The small-scale mining sector is set to record significant growth in the last half of 2017 as beneficiaries of the US$40 million Gold Development Initiative Fund commence production having spent the first half of the year refurbishing and putting up mining and processing plants at their various operations.
“Despite low production levels in the first half of 2017, the deficit will be significantly reduced in the second half of the year to end the year at the set target or marginally lower than target,” said Mr Kunaka. Mr Kunaka said uptake of the US$40 million gold facility has been “encouraging”, with more than 100 miners benefiting.
FPR is urging other small-scale miners to approach the Gold Operations Team if they wish to benefit from the fund. In the first half, large-scale miners contributed 53 percent to the deliveries while small-scale miners brought in 47 percent.
Said Mr Kunaka: “Total gold deliveries for the first half of the year increased by 3,3 percent to reach 9,9 tonnes when compared to 9,6 tonnes for the same period in 2016. The amount of money spent in purchasing the gold was around US$350 million.
“The low growth was mainly attributed to the heavy and incessant rains experienced in the first quarter of 2017. This is supported by the fact that of the 9,9 tonnes, 54 percent were delivered in the second quarter of 2017,” said Mr Kunaka.
At its peak, Zimbabwe extracted 27,1 tonnes of gold but this declined to 3,6 tonnes in 2008 although has grown back to close to historic highs and this year could set the record.