ZIMBABWE’S gold sector has continued to shine, as small-scale miners – led by Better Brands Jewellery (Better Brands) – has somehow upstaged the big producers and has become the lifeblood of the key mining sub-sector.
This comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said the extractive sector was expected to hit US$8 billion this year and the bullion industry had outperformed the diamond, platinum and coal groups among others.
Last week, Fidelity Gold Refiners (Fidelity) acting general manager Peter Magaramombe told a local weekly that deliveries to his organisation had clocked 13-plus tonnes by May – at the back of an 86 percent growth for the entire sub-sector.
Better Brands is owned by well known Harare businessman Pedzai Scott Sakupwanya. In a statement at the weekend, Better Brands said their aim is to meet the targets set by government and they would do even better to help boost the economy.
“Better Brands has branches throughout the country and we are paying good prices to suppliers and that is why we are able to meet targets and at times surpass expectations. As Better Brands we believe that we are playing our part by paying good prices so that gold is not smuggled out of the country. Zimbabwe’s gold must benefit Zimbabweans. Producers must take advantage of the incentives being offered by government so that we produce more and more gold. We don’t have a monopoly, people are free to sell straight to Fidelity.
“We are working very well with Fidelity. President Mnangagwa says gold production registered phenomenal growth and we share the same vision with him, Detractors will always find fault in the business we do. Everything we do is above board, and we are open to scrutiny. We urge all small scale miner to work together to produce boost capacity,” read part of the statement.
While Mines minister Winston Chitando told a recent Zimbabwe Miners Federation meeting that “an efficient artisanal mining industry” was key for national growth and meeting the US$12 billion roadmap, government data also shows that small-scale miners like Better Brands had contributed about seven of the 10 tonnes of gold delivered in April – amid indications that they are still making up to 60 percent of national output.
As such, Magaramombe has not only rallied yellow metal producers to capitalise on the rising commodity prices to increase production but vowed to continue lobbying the Harare administration for the relaxation of taxes, earnings retention levels and other enabling policies.
In 2021, gold exports ended the year at US$1,7 billion or a 42 percent rise – up from US$1,2 billion in 2020 – and while deliveries also notched 30 tonnes.
As the Fidelity tonnage has hit 50 percent-plus to 13,1 tonnes to date – and up from seven tonnes in the same period of last year – President Mnangagwa is banking on increased investments in the sector to lift output.
While the likes of Padenga Holdings-owned Eureka and Pickstone have unveiled massive expansion plans – with the lnnscor affiliated group announcing a US$21 million warchest to deepen the latter – Blanket, and Kuvimba-owned Freda Rebecca mines have also announced record production.
In the meantime, Sakupwanya’s company, his National Gold Buyers Association and the larger ZMF family remain a critical component of government’s resource mobilisation taskforce.
This is premised on the view or fact that Better Brands – owned by the Zanu PF councillor – has a good countrywide network and relations with 5 000-plus artisanal miners.