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Security tightened at Chiadzwa

STUNG by daring illegal diamond miners operating in cahoots with senior security personnel, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has invested in long range drones in an effort to reduce leakages.

Surveillance points have also been set up at the ZCDC and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development head offices in Harare.

Efforts are also underway to open other surveillance points at the National Joint Operations Command (JOC) and the Office of the President and Cabinet in Harare.

Illegal diamond miners, although still present within the diamond mining areas of Chiadzwa, have significantly been reduced in recent months owing to the heightened security measures.

The long range drones are being used to coordinate security exercises around the mine.

In his briefing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development early this week, ZCDC chief executive Mr Mark Mabhudhu said: “We commissioned a state-of-the-art four-tier remote surveillance system which gives surveillance access to mining operations and the diamond sort house 24 hours a day and from anywhere in the world.

“A surveillance point has been set up at ZCDC and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development head offices, while efforts are underway to open another surveillance point at the National Joint Operations Command (JOC) and the Office of the President and Cabinet.

“In addition, ZCDC has procured long range drones which are being used to coordinate security exercises around the mine. Whenever we move diamonds, we involve all our stakeholders namely ZCDC internal security, Minerals, Flora and Fauna Unit (MFFU), Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) monitors, ZRP Support Unit and a private security company,” said Mr Mabhudhu.

ZCDC also told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that in its renewed attempt to thwart leakages, the State-owned diamond mining entity is also working towards removing any human-product interaction in the sorting process of the precious gems.

“On receipt of diamonds from the mine, we separate, sort and clean our diamonds in the presents of ZCDC internal security, MFFU – CID Minerals, MMCZ monitors and a private security company. We then reconcile stocks received from the mine less non-diamonds and cleaning losses.

“The optimisation and resourcing of the security function in ZCDC has resulted in total elimination of intrusions and theft cases. The number of large stones and special stones being recovered subsequent to enhancing remote surveillance has increased significantly.

“The ultimate goal is to have little to no human-product interaction through the implementation of a Fully Integrated Sort House (FISH) system automated sorting and recovery capabilities,” said Mr Mabhudhu.

Illegal diamond miners operating in cahoots with senior security personnel were gaining entry into Chiadzwa diamond fields dressed in ZCDC uniform during the ore blasting process and making off with the precious gems.

Widely referred to as magweja, illegal diamond panners have always been a menace in Chiadzwa diamond mining operations as they have been one of the major diamond leakage medium since the discovery of the mineral.

Although they have significantly decreased in their numbers when compared to the free-for-all diamond rush era, existing security measures seem to have failed to keep the illegal panners and smugglers completely off the Marange diamond fields.

Recent investigations conducted by The Manica Post Business revealed that illegal diamond panners usually gain access to the diamond fields during the ore blasting procedure.

Blasting involves detonating mining explosives to produce a high-intensity shockwave and large volumes of gas which, being confined in a hole, expand rapidly, enter existing cracks in the rock and create larger cracks to break the rock. Manica Post

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