This just has to go on this page - dreadful news!
Zimbabwean Gold Mines Unable to Operate, Chamber of Mines Says
By Brian Latham
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Most gold mines in Zimbabwe are unable to operate because the country's central bank hasn't paid them for deliveries of the metal, the country's Chamber of Mines said.
Several mines have been flooded while others are unable to pay workers because payments for gold have been erratic or non- existent for as long as two years, the Harare-based Chamber, which represents the country's bigger gold mines, said in an e- mailed statement late yesterday.
``It is not understandable that at a time when the country requires as much foreign currency as possible, the gold sector, which can generate foreign currency, has deliberately been brought to its knees,'' the Chamber said.
Before Robert Mugabe's government began seizing white-owned commercial farms in 2000, slashing export income and pushing the economy into a recession, gold competed with tobacco as Zimbabwe's biggest export. The country then ranked third in Africa with respect to production of the metal after South Africa and Ghana. It has now been superseded by Tanzania and Mali.
Zimbabwe now has an annual inflation rate of 231 million percent and can't afford adequate supplies of fuel, power and food.
Exploration for new gold deposits has ``completely ceased'', while underground water has flooded several mines that can't afford to repair pumps that normally work 24 hours a day to keep mine shafts dry, the Chamber said.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners Ltd., a unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, has a monopoly on all bullion trade in the southern African nation. Calls to Zimbabwe's central bank weren't answered today.
Zimbabwe may produce as little as four metric tons of gold this year, down from seven tons last year, the Chamber said in June. Power and foreign currency shortages, as well as an exodus of skilled manpower, have worsened Zimbabwe's mining crisis, the industry group said at the time.
Gold mining companies in Zimbabwe include RioZim Ltd. and Metallon Corp.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham via the Johannesburg bureau on email@example.com Last Updated: November 4, 2008 04:02 EST