Harare, Zimbabwe — MININGREVIEW.COM — 05 November 2008 – The Zimbabwean Chamber of Mines has revealed that most gold mines in the country are unable to operate at this stage because the Central Bank of Zimbabwe has not paid them for deliveries of the metal.
Bloomberg News reports that the Chamber – based in the Zimbabwean capital – elaborated on the situation, stating that several mines had been flooded, while others were unable to pay workers because payments for gold had been erratic or non-existent for as long as two years.
“It is not understandable that at a time when the country requires as much foreign currency as possible, the gold sector – which can generate foreign currency – has deliberately been brought to its knees,” said the Chamber – which represents the country’s bigger gold mines – in an e- mailed statement late yesterday.
The news agency explains that before Robert Mugabe’s government began seizing white-owned commercial farms in 2000, slashing export income and pushing the economy into a recession, gold had competed with tobacco as Zimbabwe’s biggest export. The country had then ranked third in Africa behind South Africa and Ghana as a gold producer. It has now been superseded by Tanzania and Mali.
Today Zimbabwe has an annual inflation rate of 231 million%, and can’t afford adequate supplies of fuel, power and food.
“Exploration for new gold deposits has completely ceased, while underground water has flooded several mines which cannot afford to repair pumps that normally work 24 hours a day to keep mine shafts dry,” the Chamber said.
The Chamber was quoted in June as saying that Zimbabwe may produce as little as four metric tons of gold this year, down from seven tons last year. “Power and foreign currency shortages, as well as an exodus of skilled manpower, have worsened Zimbabwe’s mining crisis,” the industry group said at the time.