20 July 2012

Zimbabwe: Gold Drives Mineral Revenues Up

ZIMBABWE'S gold sector has remained the fulcrum of mining, contributing almost a third to revenues from the sector for the first six months of the year. Latest figures from the Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe show that Zimbabwe's gold production increased by 29 percent to 7,2 tonnes between January and June this year.

The gold sector generated revenues amounting to US$377 million compared to total mineral revenues of US$951 million during the first six months of the year.

Despite its current significant contribution to the sector, an analysis of gold's contribution to total mineral exports over the last couple of decades show that it declined over the past decade.

Official statistics show that between 1993 and 2003, gold contributed around 57 percent to total mineral exports, which went down to 25,5 percent for the period running between 2004 and 2011.

Platinum Group Metals' contribution to total mineral exports increased from 2,3 percent between 1993 and 2003 to 47,1 percent between 2004 and 2011.

Diamonds' contribution grew from 0,8 percent in the earlier period to 6,7 percent between 2004 and 2011.

Total gold production last year stood at 13 tonnes, but largely remained well below the 27 tonnes peak in 1999.

The country's mining sector revenues for the first half, amounting to US$951 million, however did not include coal and chrome production for last month.

In the five months to May coal production was at 709 278 tonnes with a value of US$35 million.

Chrome production during the same the period was at 209 545 tonnes at US$24 million.

Platinum production in the six-month period amounted to 5 671kg worth US$252,01 million.

Palladium output was at 4 381,14kg with a value of US$82 million.

Meanwhile, a minerals expert told delegates at a recent Africa mining indaba in South Africa that Zimbabwe's mineral resources are still largely untapped.

The under-utilisation of these resources is perhaps attributable to lack of financing.

The Chamber of Mines has since estimated that the country's mining sector requires around US$7 billion over the next five years to reach maximum potential.

That figure will then be distributed across the different minerals with key minerals receiving as follows:

Platinum 40 percent (with annual output reaching 21 000kg), gold 33 percent (50 000kg a year), diamonds 11 percent, and coal 8 percent (7 million tonnes per year).

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