HARARE, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's gold production rose 10 percent in the first eight months of this year to 14.6 tonnes, buoyed by higher output from small and informal producers, official data showed on Thursday.
Gold is Zimbabwe's single largest mineral export.
Statistics from Fidelity Printers and Refiners, a subsidiary of the central bank which buys all the country's gold output, showed that small-scale miners delivered 7.2 tonnes of bullion during the period, up from 5.5 tonnes the previous year.
Deliveries from large producers declined to 7.4 tonnes from 7.8 tonnes during the same period in 2016.
In August alone, output totalled 2.5 tonnes, the highest this year and up from 2 tonnes in July.
Fidelity is paying small-scale and informal producers cash for deliveries as it seeks to encourage more gold to be sold via official channels. The central bank has said Zimbabwe could be losing up to $500 million through illegal gold exports. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Susan Fenton)