27 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Marange Diamond Firms Fail to Honour Social Responsibility Obligations

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

ONLY one mining company in the Marange diamond fields has managed to fulfill part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) obligations while others are now reluctant to fulfill their promises because of dwindling alluvial diamonds, a resource watch group has said.

Companies involved in the extractive industry the world over prioritise CSR as a method of continuing sustainability in operations and maintaining good relations with the government.

Anjin Investments has managed to complete all 474 housing units it promised to build for displaced villagers.

But Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Corporations (DMC) and Jinan Investments which could not be reached for comment are yet to complete the first phase of the relocation process.

The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) said failure to fulfill obligations such as relocation had led to further impoverishment of the communities in which they operate.

"Recent reports from the mining companies revealed that Marange alluvial diamonds are fast running out and companies are hesitant to mine deeper as doing so would mean investing more money in acquiring new mining equipment," CNRG said.

In light of this development, mining companies need to invest in state-of-the-art equipment for them to extract conglomerates below the surface.

Mining experts contend that government should have initially carried out exploratory work in the diamond area before parcelling out land to mining companies.

"While under normal circumstances the government and the mining companies should have provided all the amenities before moving the villagers, the relocation exercise was done hurriedly as government wanted to capitalise on the new rich resource to replenish the dwindling national coffers," the group added.

The government entered into diamond mining partnerships with private investors following the formalisation of mining operations at Marange diamonds fields east of Zimbabwe in 2009.

In early 2009, the government announced that plans were underway to relocate about 4 321 Marange families affected by the diamond mining operations and the affected families were to be relocated to a farm formerly owned by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) at Transau in Odzi, about 24 km west of the city of Mutare.

But the CNRG notes that the relocated people have no source of livelihood, and depended entirely on the diamond companies for food handouts and these food handouts have however not been consistent.

"With each passing day the villagers are sliding deeper into the abyss of abject poverty," the group noted in the report.

Earlier this month, Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa reproached mining companies that were not doing anything for the communities in which they operate.

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