COVID-19 disrupts Zim’s gold supply chain, buyer suspends shipments

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  • Rand Refinery fails to secure commercial flights to UK
  • Rand Refinery suspends shipments
  • Gold contributed 37% to Zim’s 2019 forex receipts

Zimbabwe’s gold exports have come under threat after South Africa’s Rand Refinery suspended its gold exports to the UK upon failing to secure commercial flights to ship the mineral to London as the pandemic takes its toll.

Zimbabwe gold output is delivered to Fidelity Printers which then sells its gold to South Africa’s Rand Refinery. Rand Refinery, in turn, ships the yellow metal to the UK and sells it on the London Metals Exchange.

South Africa’s Rand Refinery, the continent’s only gold refiner, said it’s pursing back-up plans and alternative measures to be able to meet its delivery commitments to the London gold market.

Gold is one of Zimbabwe’s largest forex earners, contributing US$1.2 billion in 2018 and 37% of the nation’s US$4.3 billion foreign receipts in 2019. The Jewel of Africa produced a record-breaking 33.2t in 2019.

This comes as South Africa reports its second death to COVID-19 as it nears a thousand confirmed cases. South Africa is currently on 21 days lock-down in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic.

The most recent exports are led by Gold which represents 15.6% of the total exports of South Africa, followed by Diamonds, which account for 9%. Should the situation not be solved sooner, the South African economy would take a further knock as it battles to keep afloat after registering a 0.2% growth in GDP for 2019.

Gold prices rallied along with risk assets this week. At one point, gold even neared $1,700 an ounce.

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