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An early bite for Alrosa in Zimbabwean diamonds

By Investigative Reporter – Monday 12 October 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – ALROSA PJSC is alleged to have secretly commenced mining in one of its diamond concessions located in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands region of Chimanimani, albeit official reports the gem miner is still conducting exploration in all its 17 sites located throughout the country.

In July last year, Alrosa got a lion’s share when it entered into a joint venture (JV) agreement with state-owned Zimbabwe consolidate Diamond Company (ZCDC) to develop greenfield projects. Alrosa got away with a 70 percent controlling stake leaving ZCDC with a paltry 30 percent.

However, sources say while Alrosa is progressing with exploration in all its 17 sites, the Russian gem miner is clandestinely mining diamonds in its Chimanimani concession.

Developments in this tale have kept parties interested in the diamond sector agog, asking why the Russian investor should secretly begin diamond extraction before exploration is complete, in an industry already characterised by a sorry history of dodgy deals – one classic example is the missing US$15 billion diamond revenue as said by former President Robert Mugabe.

Earlier this year, there were further allegations of 12 mining companies siphoning billions of dollars in Chiadzwa diamond revenue.

“Government said they are doing exploration but in actual fact, they are mining,” said the first source who requested anonymity.

A second source who spoke on confidentiality also alleged Alrosa has been mining diamonds in Chimanimani for a while.

“You know, Alrosa conducted geological exploration in Zimbabwe around 2013. However, they shelved all the data they had gathered. They kept hold of the licences they held there in 2016 because of a reform in Zimbabwe’s diamond industry.”

“So yes, these guys (Alrosa Zimbabwe) are already mining although the official word out there is that Alrosa is still conducting exploration. I can tell you they are already mining in Chimanimani,” added the second source.

Since the discovery of diamonds, Zimbabwe had been operating without a diamond policy to govern the sector, which only came into effect in December 2018, giving only four companies rights to explore and mine diamonds in Zimbabwe.

During the signing ceremony of the ZCDC/Alrosa JV in July 2019, Alrosa Deputy chief executive officer (CEO) Vladimir Marchenko commented;

“We have chosen various projects for the joint venture, and part of them is to be launched this autumn. Of the existing fields for development, we are preliminary considering the areas located in the Chimanimani region.”

Earlier this year, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando admitted through state broadcaster Alrosa was in the process of conducting exploration of diamonds in 17 sites located through the country.

According to a 2019 ZCDC Sustainability Newsletter, some of the diamond-rich sites under Russian investors include Juliasdale pipes in Nyanga, Triangle pipes in the Lowveld, Nyika pipes in Masvingo and Wanezi pipes in Matebeleland South.

Russia is also a beneficiary of the Beitbridge pipes, which it’s sharing with the Chinese.

Save pipes in Masvingo, Mwenezi in the Lowveld, Ngulube in Matebeleland South, and Katete pipes in Binga fall under asset holding JV.

ZCDC seeks to benefit from partnership agreements with investors to unlock access to advanced exploration, mining technology and technical capacity. ENDS// www.miningndex.co.zw

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