Government gets tough on gold producers, sets monitoring teams

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    HARARE,– Government has set up teams to monitor gold production on a monthly basis at the over 200 licensed custom milling plants in the country as a means to curtail leakages by ensuring the mineral is channelled to Fidelity Printers for refining, Parliament heard on Wednesday.

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    Government gets tough on gold producers, sets up teams to monitor production

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    Zimbabwe is estimated to be losing millions in gold leakages on a monthly basis as gold smugglers are taking the yellow mineral across borders in search of higher prices.

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    Government sources say the mineral is mostly illegally sold in South Africa.

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    Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwatold the National Assembly during a question and answer session that government had set up teams that will monitor production at all milling plants.

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    The teams are made up of officials from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Ministry of Mines and the police.

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    “Their job is to visit those milling plants to ensure that systems are in place and that the gold is being delivered to Fidelity,” Chidhakwa said, adding each team will visit a maximum of 10 milling plants every month.

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    “They will visit each plant once every month.”

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    Millers, who are licensed to buy gold from small scale miners, are the first port of call for the miners in the value addition process of the mineral.

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    After milling, the gold is taken for refining to Fidelity Printers, a subsidiary of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which is the only firm licensed to refine the yellow metal.

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    Chidhakwa said the work was part of efforts by the Gold Mobilisation Committee set up by government last year to ensure that all the gold that is mined in the country is sold through official channels.

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    Studies carried out last year, the minister said, had revealed that of the 218 milling companies that were operational, more than half of them were not registered and some had not even delivered an ounce to Fidelity Printers.

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    “We closed down 11 milling plants at that time for failing to meet the requirements,” he said.

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    Chidhakwa warned gold miners as well as milling plant owners who were not delivering their produce to Fidelity Printers.

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    “We do not care who you are, we will close you down if you are not delivering to Fidelity,” Chidhakwa cautioned in a stern message seemingly targeted at senior officials some of whom are allegedly involved in gold smuggling.

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    The mines minister said only small scale gold miners who had delivered to Fidelity Printers would benefit from a $100 million facility that has been organised by government to support them with mining equipment.

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    Government has put gold production estimates for 2015 at 16 tonnes up from around 13tonnes in 2014.

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    At its peak, the country produced 27 tonnes which however declined to around three tonnes leading to its expulsion from the London Bullion Market.

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    The country has since applied to re-admission after producing more than 10 tonnes which is the minimum benchmark for admission at the market. – The Source