Mutare-based miner DTZ-OZGEO (Pvt) Limited is setting up a diamond ore processing plant worth about US$25 million in Chimanimani to be commissioned by the end of this year, a company official said.
Last year the company announced the discovery of conglomerate diamond deposits capable of producing 2,5 million carats of top quality diamonds in the province.
DTZ-OZGEO is a joint-venture mining firm established in 1994 and jointly owned by Development Trust of Zimbabwe established by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and Russian company Econedra Limited.
The company has been doing extensive exploration work on its claims in Chimanimani over the past three years.
In an interview with The Herald Business yesterday, DTZ-OZGEO executive director Mr Wellington Chando confirmed the development.
"Our company last year acquired a state-of-the-art 70 tonne Dense Media Separation machinery, putting our processing capacity to 50 000 carats per month. The setting up of the plant is part of the company's plans to diversify its business and spread its tentacles in the Zimbabwean mining sector," said Mr Chando.
He said diamonds in the Chimanimani area are smaller but they posses better quality compared to those found in Marange.
The diamonds in the Chimanimani province are conglomerate(clastic sedimentary rock that contain large diameter rounded clasts) with 40-50 percent being gem quality.
Mr Chando said the cost of mining the stones would therefore be much higher than alluvial diamonds.
Despite the cost, the company continued to do explorations and rolling out strategies on how to mine profitably.
"Despite the suspension of gold operations in Penhalonga, we have not stopped operating but our venture into diamond mining was a way of diversifying business," he said.
Mr Chando said the exploration was done by geology experts from Russia.
In addition, the company availed a platform for its local employees to get diamond sorting knowledge from diamond sorting professionals with international experience.
Local people will be able to acquire sorting and grading skills using Russian standards. According to the company's presentation before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environment, Water and Climate, DTZ-OZGEO confirmed that the current diamond mining has to target the conglomerate diamond type with drilling and blasting. The company said mining at the Chimanimani deposit focuses on the 30 degrees steep dipping conglomerate body, which has a huge variety of diamond shape including well-formed octahedral crystals (beautiful cut and polished Fluorite Octahedron Crystals).
DTZ-OZGEO (Pvt) Limited also has alluvial gold mining operations in Penhalonga with capacity to produce about 20-30kg per month.
The mine was shut down by the Environmental Management Agency in October last year on grounds that the company failed to meet environmental standards in terms of rehabilitating the area of its mining operations.