Zim gold output sinks 64%
Zimbabwe’s gold production plunged by 64,5% in October compared with the same period last year, the Chamber of Mines said Wednesday, underscoring the woes of the once vital industry.
Gold output was 125kg, down from 352kg in the same month last year, the chamber said.
It added that production was now a far cry from Zimbabwe’s peak in 1999, when it produced an average of 2 259kg a month, the chamber said.
The figure is likely to drop even further after Zimbabwe’s largest gold mining firm stopped operations early this month at its five mines across the country, resulting in 5 000 people losing their jobs.
The chamber said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe - the country’s monopoly buyer - owes gold producers $30-million in unpaid fees, some dating back to the end of 2007.
The metal has traditionally been one of Zimbabwe’s main foreign currency earners, but the mining sector has been crippled in recent months by power cuts and shortages of foreign currency needed to maintain equipment.
The sector has also been hard hit by an exodus of experienced personnel.
Shortages of cyanide, drill steel and compressor spares have also hampered production.
The Southern African nation, currently gripped by a post-election crisis, has been ravaged by the world’s highest inflation, last estimated in July at 231-million percent, along with a high unemployment rate and food shortages. - AFP.