• Zimbabwe is targeting a US$4 billion gold industry in 2023
  • Subdued electricity generation remained the challenge during the quarter
  • Gold declined to 7 708.93 kgs from 8 165.72 kg

Harare- Zimbabwe’s mining sector recorded a stellar period during the first quarter to 31 March 2023 with PGMs, diamonds, coal, nickel and copper on a surge. However, gold production remained subdued despite an unanticipated surge in its demand.

A Treasury’s quarterly bulletin released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) shows that the Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) increased by 43%, diamond by 58%, Coal by 66%, nickel by 30% and copper by31% respectively.

Iridium, ruthenium, and platinum were the major contributors to the increase in PGMs production due to their undisputable role in electric batteries while coal output was anchored by ramping up of production by Turbo mining and HCCL in response to anticipated increase in demand from ZPC upon completion of Hwange 7 & 8 thermal power station.

However, gold production plummeted by 10% to 7 708.93 kgs from 8 165.72 kgs in the same period in 2022. Zimbabwe is targeting to achieve a US$12 billion mining industry this year with gold contributing a huge chunk of the revenue at US$ 4 billion.

The small-scale producers contributed 47.7%, significantly lower than the 68% contributed during the same period in 2022. Large scale producers contributed 32.6%, while the secondary producers contributed 19.7%.

“Gold mining activities could have been affected by power outages, as well as the rain season which normally affects the operations of artisanal miners during the first quarter,” read the Treasury quarterly bulletin.

Electricity remained subdued during the period with loadshedding lasting up to 16 hours in other areas per day.

This was despite a surge in coal production by 66% during the first quarter to 1.6 million tonnes. Hwange’s Unit 7, which was set to be commissioned in January missed the target, only to be commissioned on a later date.

That added electricity hobbles given that Hwange itself operates using old-dilapidated power plants that continued succumbing to breakdown.

Generation at Hwange remained subdued during the quarter to low water levels at Kariba Dam.

As a result, power sent out during the quarter stood at 1 347.6 GWh, falling short of 2022 first quarter production of 2 267.3 GWh by 40.6%. 46.

Of the electricity sent out, 98.3 GWh (7.3%) came from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) with the rest being generated by Zimbabwe Power Company.

The report shows that Kariba South Power Station has been producing an average of 350 MWh, below its installed capacity of 1050 MWh while Hwange Power Station produced on an average of 206 GWh during the quarter, which is a 2% decrease relative to the same period in 2022.

Similarly, small thermals continue to underperform due to coal supply and delays in procurement of spare parts. 48.

“In the outlook, power generation is expected to improve due to increased water allocation at Kariba Power Station for the winter wheat season, as well as the commercialisation of Hwange Unit 7 and 8,” the report said.

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