The Herald (Harare)

3 February 2014

Zimbabwe: 'No New Claims for Diamond Firms'

Photo: Denford Magora
Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe

GOVERNMENT will not allocate new mining claims to companies extracting diamonds in Marange when they exhaust their present concessions.

Some mining firms in the area recently asked Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa to grant them more concessions saying their claims were depleted.

But Minister Chidhakwa last week told Senators that Government was interested in consolidating diamond mining by having a single miner exploiting all diamonds in line with international standards.

At the moment there are seven companies licensed to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa: Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena and Gye Nyame.

Responding to Senators during the session devoted to questions without notice, Minister Chidhakwa said it was no longer business as usual for diamond mining firms in Marange as the State wanted the gems to transform livelihoods.

"What we intend to do is not to renew our relationship with companies beyond our agreements on the existing concessions. But we must allow the joint venture agreements to live up to the end of the life of the mine as contained in the agreements.

"Consolidation is something that we are considering because we realised that not many companies actually have got the financial resources to do underground mining that gets us perhaps to the better diamonds, he said.

"Consolidation from our point of view is a policy that we are developing.

"We are working on why we should go that route. We are evaluating the performance of the structure that we have had to date to see what its weaknesses are. We are hoping that going into the future, we must have a structure in the diamonds sector that is consistent with the problems that are facing us."

Minister Chidhakwa said some companies in Marange (Jinan and Anjin Investments) wanted more concessions claiming they had run out of alluvial diamonds.

"They claimed this without doing any exploration work to see whether they had conglomerates or kimberlite diamonds. There is a desire by companies in Marange to have more properties allocated to them. It is easy to do alluvial diamond mining.

"It requires less capital. The grades were fairly high compared to other alluvial diamond mining activities in other parts of the world.

"The companies unfortunately did not prepare themselves for much more expensive activities in mining, which is going into the earth's crust to look for diamonds.

"The issue is that the companies have run out of alluvial diamonds which are easy to mine and are not willing to go and spend money in mining diamonds in the earth's crust," Minister Chidhakwa said.

"We will continue to ensure that they do not come and scrape the top . . . I wish, through this House, to send a message to the companies that we mean serious business. These are natural resources which are finite.

"Diamonds will not be with us forever and we must do something with them while they last so that future generations can look at us and say 'this generation was given diamonds by God and they did A, B, C and D with diamonds.'"

He said Zimbabwe boasted of about 30 percent world diamond reserves not only from Marange but other places as well.

Minister Chidhakwa said Government was interested in exploring diamonds in other areas to get a picture of the quantities and how long the country would exploit them.

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