Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE country’s sole gold buyer, refiner and exporter, Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) is struggling to pay miners the foreign currency component for gold deliveries owing to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the inflow of cash into the country being disrupted due to global travel restrictions.
FPR general manager Fradreck Kunana said the reduced number of flights moving between countries was affecting the availability of foreign currency into the country and subsequently impacting negatively on the company’s ability to meet its payment obligations. The company pays 45 percent in United States dollars (USD) and 55 percent in local currency for gold deliveries.
“The Covid-19 pandemic which has had negative effects that have affected the operation to full capacity of the whole economy has not spared the inflow of foreign currency into the country.
The USD is imported and with the lockdown, the operation of flights has been affected, with reduced movement, cash has not been received as frequently to satisfy the demand,” said Mr Fradreck Kunaka.
He however, said with the relaxation of lockdowns in most countries in the world, the situation was likely to normalise soon.
“FPR has been diligently paying all the miners who deliver their gold using the formal channels and with the relaxation on the lockdown measures, we are hoping we will start receiving cash and all payments will normalise,” he said.
In a statement, the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha pleaded with miners to bear with FPR as it makes efforts to rectify the anomaly.
“Pursuant to our meeting with FPR today, kindly be advised that FPR relies mostly on Foreign Exchange brought in by air transport.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a limited number of flights into the country and this has adversely affected their operations.
Kindly bear with FPR while they are making frantic efforts of ensuring that all the gold deliveries are paid for. By next week, we expect the situation to have normalised. Once again, as ZMF we sincerely apologise to our hard-working miners who have been adversely affected by this phenomenon,” he said.
ZMF Matabeleland South provincial chairman Mr Khumbulani Moyo said the failure by miners to access foreign currency has impacted negatively on their operations since most consumables are sold in foreign currency.
“The failure to access the foreign currency component of our payment has greatly affected most miners’ operations because most mining equipment and consumables are sold in foreign currency and even if one doesn’t want to spend much time on fuel queues they have to go to service stations designated to sell fuel in foreign currency,” he said.
Zvishavane-Mberengwa Miners Association chairman Mr Thembinkosi Sibanda said although the situation seems to have returned to normalcy there was a need for FPR to come up with measures to ensure prompt payment of miners so as to avoid leakages. – @DNsingo