PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has said the government would soon ban private trade in gold, and require producers to sell the mineral through a state company.
Addressing an annual conference of his Zanu PF partylast Friday, Mugabe also warned that platinum miners, including the local unit of South Africa's Implats Platinum, must build a refinery within two years or risk losing their licences.
The government, he said, was determined to drive its black economic empowerment programme forcing foreign-owned firms to sell majority stakes to locals and helping to industrialise the country.
A unity government formed in 2009 between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had allowed gold miners to independently export their gold, mainly to South Africa in a bid to help ramp up production.
But Mugabe said the government would soon require producers to sell through the state-owned Fidelity company, a central bank firm which used to enjoy this monopoly.
"We would want to centralise that. There is a lot of illicit dealing in gold, there is a lot of externalisation of earnings, and that has to stop," he said.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told Reuters last month that Zimbabwe was willing to let foreign-owned platinum mining firms hold majority shares in their local operations if they build a refinery in the country.
The country has the world's second largest known platinum reserves but mining companies send the raw product to neighbouring South Africa for processing.