11 January 2018

Zimbabwe Failed to Sell Diamonds in 2017 Says Minister, Auction Set for February

Photo: WDC

Zimbabwe will hold its first diamond sale of the year in February after failing to hold any in the whole of 2017, Mines Minister Winston Chitando told Parliament.

Diamond production in the southern African nation plunged to 1,3 million carats in 2016 and less than 2 million carats last year from peak levels of 12 million carats, after government kicked out miners from the Marange diamond fields and nationalized their operations.

"In 2017 no diamonds were sold, but the first batch is due for sale in February and the modus operandi which covers accountability will be unveiled," Chitando said.

This year diamond output is projected to reach 3,5 million carats.

Chitando also told Parliament that government was working on resuscitating Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM).

Before its collapse and eventual takeover by government, SMM was the largest producer of asbestos in the region, earning $60 million from exports annually.

"In progress now is the dewatering of Mashaba Mine which has been flooded for a long time, and we expect that it will be de-watered by December," the Mines Minister said.

"To address issues related to funding of the mine we have identified the processing of one of the dams as a low hanging fruit where we mobilised about 150 people on the ground to mobilise for the repossession of the dam to commence. The whole game plan is to raise money from repossession of the dam in order to reopen SMM," he said.

The mines were placed under the state-owned mining vehicle, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) in 2008; three years after the government had seized them from Mutumwa Mawere.

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