The world's largest diamond producer, Alrosa, has begun preliminary exploration work for commercially viable primary diamond deposits in Zimbabwe in what can potentially catapult the country among the world's leading diamond producers.
The mining venture is being undertaken by Alrosa Zimbabwe Limited (Alrosa Zim), a company that is jointly owned by Alrosa and Zimbabwe's State-owned diamond mining company -- the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Alrosa, which accounts for almost a third of the world's rough diamond production, has a 70 percent stake in Alrosa Zim with the remaining 30 percent being owned by ZCDC.
The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has finalised the issuance of the requisite special grants and the project has already been granted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate in line with Government's strategy towards sustainable mining.
In a notice published on Tuesday, Alrosa advised that it is investing an initial US$12 million for the project that will run right up to 2022.
The special grants are in the three provinces of Masvingo, Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North. Work is set to commence in Chiredzi district in the Malipati area this month before extending to Bulilima district of Matebeleland South in the Maitengwe area.
The mining concern said it will this year confine itself to geochemical sampling, trenching and pitting before moving to bulk sampling and drilling next year.
"After getting special grants from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Alrosa Zim, has the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and is set to commence prospecting and exploration in Masvingo, Matebeleland South and Matebeleland North provinces of the Republic of Zimbabwe," advised the company.
"In July 2020, Alrosa Zim's geologists will start geochemical sampling, trenching and pitting in Malipati zone, with ground geophysical surveys to follow. Towards the end of year, the same prospecting operations, including airborne geophysical surveys to be conducted in the Maitengwe area," reads the notice.
Being a member of sustainable mining organisations such as the Responsible Jewellery Council, World Diamond Council and Natural Diamond Council, Alrosa deputy chief executive officer Vladimir Marchenko said their operations will fully comply with all industry commitments on responsible business practices as well as its own corporate standards.
The mining concern also committed to strictly minimise adverse environmental impact in all areas of activities and to use mineral resources comprehensively and rationally.
The Government has set the diamonds industry an annual contribution of US$1 billion in annual exports under the 2023 milestone. The 2023 milestone is seeking to grow its mining sector exports to US$12 billion from US$2,7 billion attained in 2017. To achieve this jump, the Government is targeting to grow the country's annual diamond output from 3,4 million carats in 2018 to 10 million carats by 2023.