HARARE (Xinhua) — Zimbabwe’s gold production declined to 4,311 kg during the first quarter of this year, compared to 6,152 kg produced in the same period last year.
The output was also lower than 4,794 kg produced in the fourth quarter of last year, according to a 2021 first quarter treasury bulletin released Thursday.
“The decline was mainly on account of a fall in production from the artisanal and small-scale gold sector,” said the quarterly report released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
Of the 4,311 kg, large-scale producers delivered about 2,291 kg, 11.2 percent higher than what was produced during the same period in 2020, while artisanal and the small-scale gold sector delivered 1,586 kg, about 55.6 percent below the production of the same period in 2020, reflecting leakages through smuggling, the report said.
According to the report, the mining sector registered mixed performance during the first quarter.
While on one hand, firm international prices and resuscitation of closed mines improved performance of the sector, there were major drawbacks from a number of factors such as unstable power supply, heavy rains which culminated in the flooding of shafts, working capital challenges and subdued demand for some minerals, the report said.
Overall, platinum, diamonds and coal performed better than the previous quarter while gold, chrome and nickel suffered some declines.
During the first quarter, platinum output stood at 3,369 kg, a 5 percent decline compared to 3,544 kg produced during the same period in 2020.
“Going forward, platinum output is projected to improve, as one of the major producers resumes production at the closed mine while other mines are also undertaking efficient enhancing measures,” said the report.
Nickel output stood at 3,284 tonnes in the first quarter of 2021, 16.6 percent below output produced in the comparable period in 2020, reflecting low throughput from both primary and secondary producers.
Diamond production, however, increased by 15 percent to 702,639 carats in the first quarter of 2021 from 611,331 carats produced in the same period in 2020.
The increase was registered from only two producers that were operational during the first quarter of 2021 and could have been higher if all players were producing, the report said.
“Furthermore, production was also driven by the opening of the world economy and strong demand particularly from China,” it said.
Coal production stood at 596,753 tonnes during the period under review compared to 462,140 tons produced during the same period in 2020.
Producers were mainly constrained by delays in payments for coal deliveries which adversely impacted coal mining activities.
Further, production was also affected by limited absorption capacity during the first quarter due to non-operation of most of the units which saw three producers also cutting back output as there was no off-taker for thermal power, the report said.
Chrome production receded to 300,926 tonnes from 353,669 tonnes for the same period in 2020 and 311,495 tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Of the chrome ore produced, about 74 percent was beneficiated and value-added and disposed as high carbon ferrochrome (HCF), while only 26 percent was sold as raw chrome.
“This is due to the favorable prices of HCF that prevailed during the quarter, as compared to those of raw chrome,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the report said chrome producers had started modernizing equipment and refurbishing their furnaces in order to boost production in response to picking up chrome demand in markets such as China and firming up prices.