HARARE (Reuters) - Gold output in Zimbabwe is expected to rise this year to 18.4 tonnes, the highest level in 11 years, thanks to higher production from small-scale miners, the mining chamber said on Wednesday.
Gold is the second single largest mineral export earner after platinum in the Southern African nation.
Toendepi Muganyi, president of the Chamber of Mines, which represents major mining companies, said gold production would increase to 18.4 tonnes this year from 15.3 tonnes last year. The figure would be the highest since 2004 when Zimbabwe produced 21.3 tonnes.
"This year the most significant increase is coming from small scale miners," Muganyi told a mining conference.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa on July 30 cut royalties levied on small-scale gold producers to 1 percent from 3 percent but retained the levy on large mines, who accounted for 63 percent of gold deliveries between January and June this year.
The government has in the past accused small-scale producers of smuggling gold outside Zimbabwe but says its measures to tighten surveillance in the sector was working as more people sell bullion through official channels.
Large gold mines have, however, asked President Robert Mugabe's government to cut royalties and electricity tariffs by half to prevent the collapse of mines struggling with low bullion prices. [ID:nL5N1220ZV]
(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by James Macharia)