Zimbabwe is aiming to become one of the top five gold producing countries in Africa within the next three years, says Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Zimbabwe’s gold sector is slowly recovering after declining sharply in the last decade after output of the precious metal reached an all-time low of 3.0 tonnes in 2008 from a peak of 29 tonnes in 1999.
In 2012, Zimbabwe’s gold output reached 14 tonnes, while this year’s target is 17 tonnes.
Chinamasa said on Sunday that the government would implement various strategies to boost gold output.
“Our intention is to re-organise the gold sector. We want to become one of the top five if not top four gold producing countries on the continent in the coming three years,” he said.
“We are going to seek to decriminalise gold panners, recognise their operations; we will seek to capacitate them with machinery and I have been talking to people who can assist in that regard.”
Chinamasa said legalising the operations of gold panners was crucial if the country was to realise a substantial increase in gold output.
He said Zimbabwe had more than 20 000 gold panners whose output, if properly accounted for, would significantly increase the country’s gold output.
The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe has said that gold production could reach 50 tonnes in the next five years. However, this was dependant on the gold sector securing $1.0 billion in fresh capital over the next five years, and the availability of reliable power supplies.
South Africa, which produced 290 tonnes of gold last year, is the top producer of the yellow metal on the continent, followed by Ghana which produced about 89 tonnes in 2012.
Mali, Tanzania and Guinea complete the top five gold producing countries in Africa.