Chiredzi — Government yesterday commissioned the Airborne Mineral Exploration project in Chivi and Mwenezi districts in Masvingo Province to establish the extent of diamond deposit in the area. It is believed the two districts are rich in kimberlites.
Addressing guests during the commissioning of the exploration project at Buffalo Range Airport yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said the country's mining industry was poised for a boom, with diamonds alone expected to contribute $1 billion a year by 2023.
"As part of the contribution to the country's Vision 2030 of creating a middle-income economy, the mining industry is destined to increase in size from a mere $2,7 billion industry attained in 2017 to a $12 billion industry by 2023," he said.
"It is a important milestone which Government is working on towards the attainment of the Vision 2030 and with that $12 billion industry by end of 2023, diamonds will contribute $1 billion at least."
Minister Chitando said Government was already implementing the diamond policy hinged on value addition and beneficiation.
"In terms of the development of the Diamond Industry, last year we produced 2,8 million carats and the whole idea is for this to go up to at least 10 million carats by the year 2023. I said at least (10 million) because that projection is based on geologically proven sites and with the exploration which is now taking place, who knows what can happen?," he said.
"This event is important in the sense that exploration activities of this nature would enable us to improve our diamond production beyond the 10 million carats."
In his address, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Cde Ezra Chadzamira said the commissioning of the diamond exploration project was key to the province's quest to create employment.
"Under the thrust of devolution, Mining and Minerals Development sector provides a larger percentage towards the attainment of Masvingo's Gross Domestic Product. As such, exploration of diamonds in Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts gives us scientific grounds to plan for our people, industrialisation, modernisation and development.
"Masvingo, therefore, stands ready to beneficiate, value add, market diamonds and related products in manner that seeks to see local communities participating and benefiting," he said.
Minister Chadzamira said the advent of diamond mining in Mwenezi and Chiredzi will curb illegal border jumping into neighbouring South Africa by unemployed youths.
"Having our youths and woman, crossing Runde and Limpopo Rivers full of crocodiles to South Africa in search of jobs will now be a thing of the past.
"Rutenga and Sango Border Post growth point will expand because of the envisaged diamond mining in southern Masvingo.
"The exploration of diamonds for mining purposes in these two districts will bring new diversified economic activities in Mwenezi and Chiredzi districts.
"The mining activities will result in economic transformation of the Lowveld towards massive rural development," said Minister Chadzamira.
"The development of Rutenga as a dry port and modernisation of Sango Border Post luring trade activities will provide the much needed generation of foreign currency and investments in our country."
The diamond exploration covers Ngundu, Mwenezi and Rutenga and will focus on conglomerate, alluvial and kimberlites.
Mr Nicholas Taruvinga, the Managing Director of AeroSurv, which partnered Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics of South Africa for the aeromagnetic surveying of gem deposits in Mwenezi and Chiredzi said the companies focused on collecting data from underneath rocks.
"Our companies utilise aircraft and helicopter platforms equipped with the very latest in data acquisition technology AeroSurv Zimbabwe collects, processes and interprets data related to the earth's surface and the souls and rocks beneath," said Mr Taruvinga.
The event was also graced by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company chair Engineer Killen Ukama, Managing Director of Excalibur Airborne Geophysics Mr Simon Bosch and Senator Josiah Hungwe, among others