3 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Mbada to Invest Heavily in Marange

ZIMBABWE'S diamond deposits are far from being exhausted with the first commercial company to mine in Marange, Mbada Diamonds, keen on investing hundreds of millions towards exploiting new kimberlite deposits, Mbada chairperson Robert Mhlanga has said.

In an interview with businessdigest, Mhlanga said his company had carried out exploration work for kimberlitic mining and was satisfied the resource could be mined viably starting early this year.

"As a corporate we are geared to expedite all our mining activities because we are aware of the national expectation. To that end we will ensure that next year Zimbabwe ushers in kimberlitic mining," Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga said the new venture was part of a broad expansion programme expected to see the diamond miner purchasing a new processing plant. He also said investments would be made from internal resources.

"There are, however, a lot of factors which will come into play in the expansion process. As we said earlier, even in the earlier stages of our operations, we were talking of investments around tens of millions of US dollars. We then have to look at investing amounts which will be in hundreds of millions of dollars as we expand and grow bigger and as operations become more complex."

He said exploration work showed diamonds were in abundance across the Eastern Highlands, and, contrary to recent reports, alluvial and conglomerate diamonds were still available in the Marange area.

"A lot of geological activity has taken place, we have managed to, as a corporate, drill tens of kilometres of geological drilling work and occurrences are still there so we wish to re-assure the nation that the diamonds are there," he said. "They may differ in terms of frequency, quantity and quality of occurrence, but we are a diamond country and we will be a diamond country for a long time to come."

Mbada is one of the seven diamond mining companies operating in Marange. The other six are Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame, Jinan Mining Private Ltd, Kusena and Marange Resources.

Some of the miners in Marange claim alluvial deposits are fast running out and companies are required to invest in new technology for conglomerate diamond mining which is not always commercially viable.

However, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa has demanded exploration reports from the players to inform government on the mining activities in the alluvial diamond-rich area.

A new kid on the block, DTZ-OZ Geo (Pvt) Limited says it has found conglomerate deposits capable of producing 2,5 million carats of top quality diamonds in the Chimanimani area.

The company, a joint-venture mining firm established in 1994 and jointly owned by the Development Trust of Zimbabwe which was established by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, and Russian company Econedra Limited, has been doing extensive exploration work on its claims in Chimanimani over the past two years.

The company in July this year acquired a state-of-the-art 70-tonne dense media separation machinery. It projects processing capacity of up to 50 000 carats per month, DTZ-OZ Geo deputy managing director Bornwell Mupaya told journalists during a tour of the company's gold mining operations in Penhalonga last week.

"The diamonds are smaller, but are of better quality than those found in Marange because they are conglomerate with 40 to 50% being gem quality," Mupaya said.

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