Mutare — Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company has beefed up security to counter the growing threat of illegal mining during the 21 day lockdown declared to fight coronavirus, its officials have said.
Senior public relations officer Sugar Chagonda revealed that they have intensified security at the mine to stop illegal miners, some of whom are in contact with foreign diamond buyers outside the country.
He said the company has also fully complied with the government directive and downscaled operations at the mine leaving only a 'skeleton workforce' to man the premises.
"Most of our workers are now working from their respective homes, only a skeleton workforce is at the time and we are strictly monitoring visits at the mine.
"We have also increased our security around the perimeter to counter breaches by artisanal miners during this period," he said.
Impeccable sources have also revealed that foreign diamonds buyers are using middlemen to buy the gems and are slipping in and out of the country through the porous Mozambican -Zimbabwe boarder.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique have popular illegal entry points that include the Cecil Kopje Nature Reserve, Burma Valley and Border Streams in Mutare, while there are other points along border.
ZCDC chief security officer Ellias Mvere says illegal diamond panning has been a perennial challenge for diamond companies since the discovery of gems in Chiadzwa, and locals have increasingly turned to it.
He said while there are intrusions into mining concessions they have continuously engaged the local CBOs and traditional leaders who have been proactive in assisting the company to counter intrusions.
"We are engaging CBOs and traditional leadership to ensure that we get support and cooperation from the community, more often than not we have countered intrusions through assistance with community after they heeded to our calls.
"In 2018 we made 1375 arrests only 30% were individuals from Manicaland, but in 2019 we made an a total of 2359 arrests, of which only 21% are now in illegal panners form other provinces, this highlights that there is need to continuously engage over the issue of illegal panning," said Mvere.