The state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) missed its September deadline to commence mining conglomerates in Chiadzwa amid reports the company is yet to complete installing its plant which it acquired from Belarus, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
This comes on the backdrop of tumbling production levels since ZCDC took over the mining of diamonds from various companies in April 2016.
ZCDC has been failing to meet its monthly production target of 200 000 carats.
This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plunder at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.
The company expects to produce 2,5 million carats this year after acquiring equipment worth US$32 million which has been expected to push production figures upwards.
However, sources said mining operations have been stalled by a new diamond rush as illegal miners have invaded Chiadzwa again, as well as the delay in installing the new plant.
In an interview, ZCDC chief executive officer Morris Mpofu said the company will kick-start conglomerate mining early next year.
"We are still doing alluvial mining as the first phase of the plant is being installed and we expect that full throttle conglomerate mining will only commence in the first quarter of next year," said Mpofu.
In terms of production levels, he said it is too early to anticipate an increase in output.
"We cannot talk of any production levels at the moment because we are just finishing the available alluvials so that we kick-start conglomerate mining next year," he said.
In a recent interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, Mpofu said production has remained on the negative side of 200 000 carats monthly, owing to the migration programme which the company is undertaking.
He also said the conglomerate plant will be completed by the fourth quarter of this year to pave way for the company to embark on kimberlitic mining which requires huge investment.
ZCDC, which recently splurged US$32 million on mining equipment, was formed in 2015 after government took over the mining claims previously owned by Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Jinan, Rera, Kusena and Gye Nyame, to ensure transparency and accountability in the mining and trade of diamonds.
Mpofu said ZCDC was currently working on an intensive exploration and evaluation programme. He said mining was presently restricted to alluvial diamonds.
ZCDC is seeking to boost output and increase operations at mining claims taken over by government from several companies that previously held concessions in the Chiadzwa fields in Marange.
In order to attain a diamond target output of 6 000 000 carats as projected in the 2016 National Budget through the consolidated company, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in close liaison with the ZCDC and the Mines ministry, have instituted measures which include increased access to long-term and working capital financing.