Gold production in Zimbabwe has suffered its biggest drop since 1916, according to the country's Chamber of Mines.
Political tensions have meant that the troubled southern African nation has not benefited from the current high prices of precious metals. In the 12 months to March, the country produced only eight metric tonnes of gold, as opposed to 16 tonnes in 2006 and 27 tonnes in 1999.
The chamber's chairman, Jack Murehwa, commented: "Our industry continues to experience declines in volumes despite the very buoyant mineral prices which prevailed for the past 18 months."
"What excuse can our industry give for not benefiting from this worldwide boom in metal prices?"
He pointed to hyperinflation and shortage of oil as factors that were causing potential investors to shy away from Zimbabwe's mining sector.
External investors have also been apprehensive about government proposals to introduce a minimum 51 per cent stake in all the country's mining projects in a black empowerment drive, the Herald reports.
"We believe that solutions for our sector lie in the resolve by the authorities to take bold steps towards making and adopting long-term policies that will support and encourage the development of the mining industry in Zimbabwe," Mr Murehwa concluded.