22 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Murowa Diamonds Production Up 10 Percent

Output at Murowa Diamond Mine increased by 10 percent to reach 313 000 carats for the full year ended December 31, 2012 compared to 285 000 carats mined the previous year, parent company Rio Tinto has reported.

Murowa, located near Zvishavane in the Midlands province, is a 78 and 22 percent partnership between Rio Tinto and RioZim Limited, an independent Zimbabwean owned and listed company.

Murowa is one of six companies mining diamonds in Zimbabwe.

In its operations review for the year, Rio Tinto said an 11 percent increase in fourth quarter production at Murowa, which reached 98 000 carats, pushed overall output to 313 000 carats.

Ore processed in the period under review rose to 542 000 tonnes, up from 473 000 tonnes the previous year while total diamonds recovered increased to 403 000 carats up from 367 000 carats in 2011.

The fate of the mine, however, remains uncertain following announcements by Rio Tinto in March last year that it may dispose some of its shares in its diamond ventures.

Meanwhile, total diamond production for the group last year rose to 13 122 000 carats from 11 733 000 mined in 2011. Argyle Mine in Australia produced 8 471 00 carats up from 7 441 000 carats in 2011 while the Diavik Mine in Canada produced 4 338 000 carats.

The diamond industry is currently going through a lean spell mainly due to the eurozone debt crisis coupled with slowing Asian purchases while demand for end products continues to decline.

This resulted in rough diamond prices slumping 16 percent last year with the market growing by about 3 to 4 percent compared with growth of 10 percent in 2011 while in 2013 it is expected to register marginal growth again.

Industry experts, however, expect a rebound in prices this year following an announcement by De Beers, the world's largest diamond producer late last year that it was going to constrain supply in 2013.

New Ziana

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