HARARE – Gold sales to Zimbabwe’s sole buyer and exporter of bullion Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) fell 31 percent to 19 tonnes last year after lower deliveries from small-scale miners, official data showed on Monday.
FPR pays U.S. dollars in cash to small-scale gold miners, but a shortage of hard cash caused delays in payments most of last year. That forced many of the miners to sell their gold to illegal buyers, industry officials say.
Deliveries of gold, the top foreign currency earner, have been on the decline since reaching a record 33.2 tonnes 2018, mainly due to delays by FPR in paying miners.
The central bank last month announced plans to unbundle FPR into two separate companies and sell a majority stake in the new gold refinery business to miners, in a bid to boost output.
FPR data showed that total gold deliveries fell to 19.05 tonnes from 27.66 tonnes in 2019.