11 March 2013

Zimbabwe: Diamonds Discovered in Bikita

Photo: Denford Magora
The reddish-coloured diamonds of Marange in Zimbabwe.

Bikita, Masvingo — FOUR kimberlitic pipes rich in diamonds have been discovered in Budzi communal lands in Bikita near the border with Manicaland Province. The four rock formations infested with diamonds discovered here, experts say, are likely to see Zimbabwe consolidating its position as one of the top world diamond producers.

A consortium of Chinese and Zimbabwean firms registered as Nan Jiang Africa Resources Ltd has already applied to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development for a licence to start exploiting the gems.

However, Government has expressed concern after the company proceeded to set up structures, among them offices and a milling plant before submitting the application.

Nan Jiang Africa Resources has since started building offices and houses for its employees together with a plant and over 100 workers from Bikita and Buhera have been recruited.

When The Herald visited the heavily guarded site on Thursday, heavy mining equipment such as front end loaders and monster tippers were busy scooping the ground.

Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Gift Chimanikire confirmed that Nan Jiang Africa Resources Ltd had applied for a licence.

"There are diamonds that were discovered in Devuli Ranch in Bikita by a consortium involving the Chinese and some Zimbabweans.

Four kimberlitic pipes were discovered in the area by the company and they have since applied for a licence to start diamond mining in the area and we are still looking at the application," he said.

Deputy Minister Chimanikire said the firm initially wanted to mine tantalite before discovering diamonds.

"We dispatched a team from the ministry which went to the area (Budzi) to find out what was happening on the ground.

"We wanted to find out whether they had discovered alluvial diamonds or kimberlite diamonds.

"The team prepared a report which we will use in the consideration of their (Nan Jiang) application," he added.

He, however, expressed dismay over the move by the firm to start erecting structures before being licensed.

Bikita Rural District council chief executive officer Mr Johnsen Mpamhadzi confirmed that Nan Jiang Africa Resources wanted to venture into diamond mining in Budzi.

He, however, said the company had not yet officially informed council about their latest findings.

Mr Mpamhadzi said villagers in the drought-prone Budzi area in Bikita were counting on Nan Jiang Africa Resources for assistance to draw water from Devure River for irrigation.

The new diamond mine has awakened Budzi communal lands from deep slumber.

The area is now a hive of activity as villagers from as far as Chamutsa communal lands in Buhera flock to the area to do business and look for jobs.

A number of companies have also gone into partnership with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation in Marange.

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