By Business Reporter – Sunday 15 August 2021
ANALYSIS (Mining Index) – THE diamond industry is projected to contribute US$1 billion towards the targeted US$12 billion mining revenues annually by 2023.
While Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) has constantly made available gold production statistics both by Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASM) and primary producers, it has not been a constant phenomenon with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), which has not played its part to regularly give an update on diamond output, and revenue the country is generating from precious stones and how that revenue is being accounted for and used towards economic development.
Manicaland is mostly rural. Despite the province being rich in diamonds worth billions, the province has remained undeveloped with most of its infrastructure such as roads, educational facilities, healthcare systems, in a dire state.
With the current state of infrastructure in Manicaland province, it is evident the mining revenue that has been generated from diamond sales since diamond mining was formalised in 2006 has not brought any positive development in the province.
In October 2018, state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) launched the Zimbabwe Electronic Diamond Trading System (ZEDTS) a diamond trading system that was expected to see proper accountability in diamond trading, enhance security and bring transparency in selling of diamonds.
With a goal to grow annual diamond output to 10 million carats by 2025, ZEDTS was aimed at ensuring ZCDC optimises its operations to maximise the generation of fiscus revenues and foreign exchanges for the country.
Latest media reports indicate ZCDC significantly missed its half-year production target, producing just 756 518 carats (151,3kg) against a target of 1 151 500 carats (230,3kg). The Diamond Company says it expects to produce 3 044 050 carats (608,81kg) by end of 2021.
ZCDC revealed that sales of diamonds in the six months depleted, brought in US$64 770 207, against a target of US$78 650 000.
With erratic diamond output statistics at hand, it is plausible for the pubic to gossip about corruption in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector as some foreign mining houses are alleged to be mining in various sites across the country.
Anjin was in January 2020 reported to have extended its operations, invading part of the concession belonging to ZCDC at the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.
Again, last year, there were reports of Chinese nationals mining diamonds in the Chingwizi area located in the Lowveld.
Russian’s Alrosa was alleged to have secretly commenced mining in some 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 throughout the country.
However, no official diamond output statistics have been released since the Russian and Chinese investors signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) to commence diamond operations in Zimbabwe.
Diamonds produced by the ZCDC are marketed and sold by MMCZ through an auction sale.
Following a hiatus which saw ZCDC temporarily exit the diamond auction market in February 2018 to allow for the development and implementation of an effective diamond value management framework and establishment of a robust marketing and sales strategy, the Diamond Company resumed diamonds sales and conducted its first diamond auction in February 2019 which raked US$829 067.
In June 2019, MMCZ conducted a second diamond sale graced by seven international buyers invited to undertake valuations of 1.9 million carats of industrial, near gems and gems.
MMCZ held its third and last diamond auction FY2019 which took place from September 9th to September 13th trading 310 000 carats produced by ZCDC.
Zimbabwe was expected to hold the last and fourth diamond sale FY2019 to auction 500 000 carats of diamonds, the auction sale was never held.
Last year, MMCZ general manager Tongai Muzenda confirmed the last diamond auction sale that was scheduled for December 2019 to dispose a 500 000-carat stock as announced in September 2019 was not conducted.
No diamond auction was conducted FY2020.
With the Corona Virus pandemic affecting most business operations, according to an April 2020 Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) report, ZCDC continued diamond mining operations in Marange although it scaled down its operations following the effective date of the lockdown.
The National Diamond Policy of December 2018 gave only four companies rights to explore and mine diamonds in Zimbabwe – ZCDC, Murowa Diamonds, Anjin Investment and Alrosa.
Sadly, at least two-thirds of Zimbabwe’s diamond sites are either owned, explored or being mined by foreign owned companies – Russia’s Alrosa and Chinese’ Anjin Investments.
Diamond pipes that fall under asset joint ventures include Save pipes in Masvingo, Mwenezi in the Lowveld, Ngulube in Matebeleland South, and Katete pipes in Binga.
The Nyashanu pipes in Manicaland and Mbizi pipes in Triangle fall under the Chinese. However, on top of these two, Anjin started mining operations last year in Chiadzwa, exerting their influencing on the eastern hinterland diamond fields.
Juliasdale pipes in Nyanga, Triangle pipes in the Lowveld, Nyika pipes in Masvingo and Wanezi pipes in Matebeleland South fall under Russia.
However, Russian miner, Alrosa, is said to be exploring the Chimanimani brownfields, making Chimanimani Russia’s territory.
The Beitbridge pipe has been split between the two foreign companies, Russia and China.
RioZim operates the 400,000 carat per annum Murowa diamond mine in south central Zimbabwe. ENDS// www.miningndex.co.zw
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