HARARE, May 2 (Xinhua) -- Production of major minerals such as gold and diamonds at Zimbabwe mining giant, RioZim, declined in the first quarter of 2006 compared to the same period last year, statistics provided by the miner have revealed.
Gold production declined slightly from 5,956 ounces last year to 5,787 ounces while diamond production plunged from 65,869 carats to 48,472 carats. Nickel production fell from 1,604 tons to 1,527 tons while coal production was at 41,102 tons.
Full year production was 25,120 tons as the miner only embarkedon production of the black gold in the last quarter of the year.
Total gold production last year stood at 24,204 ounces while diamond and nickel production was 251,152 carats and 6,518 tons respectively.
While the miner gave no specific reasons for the decline in production, capacity utilization in all sectors of the economy has generally declined as a result of difficulties in accessing foreign currency to import critical inputs.
Mining concerns especially have had to contend with breakdown of machinery as well as failure to replace old equipment because of foreign currency shortages.
Escalating input costs and increases in labor charges as workers try to cushion themselves from the highly inflationary environment have also impacted on performance.
Inflation stands at 913.6 percent in March and is expected to go up again in the second quarter.
RioZim owns Renco Mine, Empress Mine and has a 22 percent stakein Murowa Diamonds and 50 percent of Sengwa Coal Mine. Rio Zimbabwe was weaned from its parent company Rio Tinto Plc last year. Enditem