The Central Bank of Zimbabwe cleared all arrears due to gold companies for the delivery of ingots to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the financial institution and the country’s only authorized gold buyer.
The information was given this Wednesday by the Zimbabwean daily newspaper The Herald. Quoted by the newspaper, Isaac Kwesu, Director General of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines, confirmed that « all outstanding payments[had] been cleared, with the[payments] now arriving on time, except in one or two cases where they can be delayed by up to one week ». Seriously affected by delays in the payment in foreign currency of the proceeds of their gold deliveries, mining operators have so far had the greatest difficulty in paying for the imports necessary (fuel and equipment in particular) to maintain their activities. RioZim, listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, had to suspend its mining activities for the second time in six months in three of its gold mines due to non-payment of its gold deliveries. The measure made official this week should therefore provide a healthy breathing space for the operators concerned, 65% of whom are artisanal miners.
Under the current system, Zimbabwe’s gold producers are legally required to sell their production to Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the Central Bank of Zimbabwe. They are also expected to receive 55% of their income in US dollars, the rest in the new local currency, government bonds renamed since January RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) dollars… and already heavily devalued (-48% against the US dollar). A real problem according to Isaac Kwesu for whom « the only issue that gold operators want to discuss with the Central Bank is the retention (exchange) thresholds », while operators want full payment in foreign currency. Gold is Zimbabwe’s main export, accounting for more than 60% of revenue generated in 2017.