Netherlands seeks to market Zim gold

HARARE – The Netherlands says it wants to help reduce gold leakages in Zimbabwe by stimulating European markets to opt for the yellow metal that is sourced in a sustainable and legal way.

Dutch special envoy natural resources, Dirk-Jan Koch, told businessdaily last week that the Netherlands was committed to help revive Zimbabwe’s gold sector.

“There is too much illicit gold leaving the country and the Netherlands can play an important part by promoting that European markets distinguish between licit and illicit gold. Zimbabwe can work on the supply side while we can work on the demand side,” he said.

This comes as 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.

Mining experts say the mineral is mostly illegally sold in South Africa.

Koch, who met senior Mines ministry officials in Zimbabwe recently, urged the country to quickly formalise small-scale gold miners as a way of reducing leakages as well as protecting the environment from informal panners.

“We have many organisations which can really help Zimbabwe’s mining sector to get back on its feet, but first we have to be guaranteed that the mineral is being extracted in a way that respects the laws as well as the environment,” he added.

Although Fidelity Printers and Refiners is the only sole buyer of gold in Zimbabwe, official statistics show that both formal and informal gold miners are not fully complying with the country’s regulations.

Last year, the government suspended 11 gold miners for non-compliance with mining regulations in a drastic measure to curb gold leakages and increase deliveries.

According to reports, gold leakages have been cited as a major contributor to the decline in gold sales from 27 tonnes in 1999 to 12 tonnes per year now.

Zimbabwe Miners Federation statistics indicate gold production by small scale miners has slumped 17 tonnes at peak in 2004 to 959 kilogrammes in 2013 despite growth in the number of players, an indication the yellow metal finds its way out of the country illegally.

Mineral leakages have been a headache for government with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority recently acquiring new state-of-the-art mobile scanners and fixed scanners that are being installed at various ports of entry as part of an initiative to plug revenue leakages from minerals that are finding their way outside the country through illegal means.

This comes as the country, which was booted out of the London Bullion Market Association in 2007 due to depressed output, is making frantic efforts to be re-admitted into the prestigious club.

Source – The Daily News.

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