Figures released by Zimbabwe’s Chamber of Mines on Wednesday showed a sharp drop in gold output from 4,686 kilogrammes during the period between January and July 2007 to just 2,624 kg in the comparative period this year.
The chamber blamed administrative glitches at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) which delayed payments to producers for gold deliveries as well as an uncompetitive exchange rate.
“Data at hand indicate that there are some producers that have not been paid for deliveries made in 2007,” the miners’ body said in a statement.
The RBZ is the sole buyer of gold and other precious minerals but has lately been accused of insensitivity to miners’ concerns, often reacting too slowly to grievances forwarded to it by industry representatives.
The Chamber of Mines has repeatedly said the official exchange rate of around 90 Zimdollars for every US dollar which miners are paid for a third of their earnings was unviable as this could not meet their Zimdollar costs.
The mining sector is the biggest foreign currency earner in a country battling its worst ever economic crisis and its collapse could bring more misery to the majority of Zimbabweans who are squeezed by the world’s highest inflation rate of more than 11 million percent, unemployment above 80 percent and shortages of hard cash and food.
APAPost published in: Economy