Power bill arrives, Zimbabwe gold mine shuts down

Harare – A Zimbabwean gold mine was this week forced to shut down after failing to settle an electricity bill with the country's state power company, threatening the jobs of 600 workers, an industry official said on Friday.

Gold accounts for a third of export earnings in Zimbabwe’s battered economy, but the industry has been hampered by frequent power cuts, shortages of foreign currency and workers and delays in payment by the central bank.

Golden Valley, a medium-sized mine located in Kadoma, 150km west of the capital Harare, closed this week after failing to settle its debt with state-owned electricity firm ZESA Holdings, an official with the Chamber of Mines said.

The mining company blamed the central bank subsidiary Fidelity for delaying payment for the gold sold to it by the firm, the official said on condition of anonymity. Fidelity is the sole purchaser and refiner of the precious metal in Zimbabawe.

"We have serious issues affecting miners and the Golden Valley issue is only but one of several problems the industry is facing," the official said.

Golden Valley officials were not available for comment.

Zimbabwe’s gold output tumbled 44 percent to 2 624kg in the first seven months of this year.

Miners in the southern African nation, which is struggling with an economic crisis marked by inflation of 231 million percent and chronic food and fuel shortages, receive 40 percent of their earnings in foreign currency. – Reuters