Power outages prompt 20% mining sector output losses for 2019

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE’S ongoing power shortages contributed to at least 20% output losses to the country’s mining sector, the 2019 third quarter treasury bulletin published by the Finance Ministry has reported.

The bulletin acknowledged that the majority of players in the extractive sector experienced severe power outages.

“Power shortages was the major challenge for the mining sector and it is estimated that about 80% of the miners suffered regular and prolonged power outages resulting in output losses of around 20%,” the document says.

The details come at a time when Zimbabwe has been experiencing increased power outages running between 12 to 18 hours a day, something that has forced prolonged production cut downs across industrial sectors.

According to the bulletin, Gold output in the third quarter of 2019 at 8 744 kg was 23% lower than the 11 412 kg realised during the same period in 2018.

Output was weighed down by low deliveries from small scale miners. As a result, cumulative gold output at 21 971 kg was below the 2018 average output of 29 524 kg.

Platinum output stood at 3 159 kg, about 17 % lower than 3 814 kg produced in the same period of 2018.

Says Treasury, “As a result, cumulative output to September 2019 was 10 271 kg lower than the 10 996 kg realised during the same period in 2018.”

Diamond output during the period under review stood at 0.5 million carats, which is lower than the 0.6 million carats produced in the similar period of 2018 also partly because of Cyclone Idai linked disturbances.

Chrome output declined to 394 253 tonnes compared to the 447 625 tonnes produced during a comparable period of 2018 as the sector was heavily affected by power outages which were compounded by the exiting of one of the major produces in the industry.

Coal output, at 0.8 million tonnes during the third quarter of 2019, was 25% lower than the 1.1 million tonnes produced in the comparable period of 2018.

The lower performance of coal is also due to the shortage of working capital as the surging inflation has pushed the cost of production up.

Reads the bulletin on the status of energy, “Electricity generation underperformed compared to the set target and the previous quarter. Electricity produced and sent out during the quarter amounted to 1 505 GW/h against a target of 2 355.6 GW/h and 2 256.3 GW/h recorded in the previous quarter.”