By Anna Chibamu
THE Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines (ZCM) has attributed the decline in gold output in 2020 and the first quarter of this year to the havoc caused by the Covid-19 pandemic among other constraints.
Giving oral evidence to the Mines and Mining Development Parliamentary Portfolio committee Monday, ZCM chief executive (CEO) Isaac Kwesu said 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 had seen a decline of 29% in gold.
However, Kwesu highlighted constraints such as power outages, inadequate capital especially foreign currency, delays in payments by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s subsidiary, Fidelity Printers, pricing, sanctions imposed by the West against Zimbabwe, and discrepancies in the foreign exchange rates were also some of the glitches affecting gold production in Zimbabwe.
“In 2020, gold accounted for 40% mineral exports whilst 25% contributed to formal mining employment. Over half a million people were also benefiting from the sector as every dollar generated created US$3,00. Gold earnings circulate more than any other form of export,” said Kwesu.
According to the ZCM CEO; “Operating in a Covid-19 environment had affected the operations in most gold mines. In 2018, gold was at its peak compared to other previous years where it realised 35 tonnes although 2019 to 2021 we have seen a decline of 29% of gold in deliveries to Fidelity Printers.”
However, portfolio committee members questioned the ZCM and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) officials on why the country was experiencing an increase in gold leakages following the arrests of several people smuggling gold outside Zimbabwe.
Kwesu admitted there was a worrying increase in leakages but failed to give specific responses on the rise saying the Chamber of Mines relied on government departments for information.
“Leakages may have contributed to the low output delivered to Fidelity Life Printers. We need competitive markets where producers can deliver their output,” he said.