Zim­babwe di­a­mond out­put lev­els plum­met

Coun­try is now pro­duc­ing about 950 000 carats of di­a­monds a year com­pared to 12 mil­lion carats dur­ing the peak

African Independent - - BUSINESS -

to de­sired re­sults.

ZMDC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mr Mor­ris Mpofu con­ceded that pro­duc­tion lev­els had slumped to shock­ing lev­els.

How­ever, he said that pro­duc­tion is set to in­crease dur­ing the last quar­ter of this year when the com­pany will ex­plore un­der­ground min­ing.

“We have se­cured min­ing equip­ment and I think dur­ing the last quar­ter of this year we will pur­sue un­der­ground min­ing since al­lu­vial de­posits are ex­hausted,” said Mpofu.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pro­duced by the min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment on the pro­duc­tion of di­a­monds in the coun­try, Zim­babwe is now pro­duc­ing about 950 000 carats of di­a­monds com­pared to 12 mil­lion carats dur­ing the peak.

“Dur­ing the peak pe­riod in 2012 the coun­try was pro­duc­ing more than 12 mil­lion carats of di­a­monds per year,” read the re­port.

“To date the coun­try is pro­duc­ing about 950 000 carats of di­a­monds which is far less than what we ex­pect from the in­dus­try,”added the re­port.

In 2015, 2.3 mil­lion carats were pro­duced with the fig­ure go­ing down to 985 000 carats last year.

This year the coun­try had pro­jected to pro­duce 2.2 mil­lion carats of di­a­monds, but so far less than 500 000 carats have been pro­duced.

Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Wal­ter Chid­hakwa said the slump in pro­duc­tion was shock­ing, hence the need to re­visit the pro­duc­tion chain.

“We need to re­visit the whole pro­duc­tion chain and see where we are go­ing wrong,” said Chid­hakwa.

“We, how­ever, re­main op­ti­mistic that pro­duc­tion will rise to de­sired lev­els given the fact that we have bought new min­ing ma­chin­ery,” said Chid­hakwa.

“In ad­di­tion to the pur­chase of new min­ing equip­ment, we feel the un­der­ground project, which the com­pany wants to pur­sue, will yield the de­sired re­sults.”

Be­fore the gov­ern­ment ejected pri­vate play­ers from Chi­adzwa mines, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pa­trick Chi­na­masa de­scribed the di­a­mond sec­tor as “vir­tu­ally dead”.

Chi­na­masa said the sec­tor was not con­tribut­ing mean­ing­ful amounts of money to Trea­sury, trig­ger­ing the state to take the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of min­ing the prod­uct in eastern Zim­babwe.

The past two years had been ac­tion-packed in Zim­babwe’s di­a­mond min­ing sec­tor as seven com­pa­nies were evicted from Chi­adzwa mines and the ZMDC took over.

The com­pa­nies un­suc­cess­fully mounted sev­eral court chal­lenges protest­ing against their ejec­tion from min­ing di­a­monds.

The gov­ern­ment, through the ZMDC, ini­tially con­fis­cated min­ing equip­ment from the af­fected com­pa­nies but later re­leased it after court chal­lenges.

Chi­adzwa di­a­mond mines have been a hot­bed since 2006 when al­lu­vial di­a­monds were dis­cov­ered in the area.

A po­lice and army op­er­a­tion in 2008 saw at least 200 peo­ple be­ing killed. This sparked out­rage from hu­man rights ac­tivists and in­ter­na­tional di­a­mond min­ers who ac­cused au­thor­i­ties of gross hu­man rights abuse dur­ing di­a­mond min­ing. The Kim­ber­ley Process Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Scheme es­tab­lished in 2003 also ob­jected to the sale of Zim­bab­wean di­a­monds on the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, call­ing them blood di­a­monds.

The Kim­ber­ley Process Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Scheme was es­tab­lished to pre­vent con­flict di­a­monds from en­ter­ing the main stream rough di­a­mond mar­ket.

Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe said two years ago at least $15 bil­lion in di­a­mond pro­ceeds could not be ac­counted for, trig­ger­ing panic and uncer­tainty within the di­a­mond min­ing sec­tor.

How­ever, de­spite a shock­ing slump in pro­duc­tion lev­els, Zim­bab­wean au­thor­i­ties still feel that the coun­try could rack in $30bn an­nu­ally from di­a­mond sales.

“Our aim when we ejected com­pa­nies from min­ing di­a­monds at Chi­adzwa was to en­sure that ev­ery cent from the sec­tor is ac­counted for,” Chid­hakwa said.

Chid­hakwa said since Fe­bru­ary this year no auc­tion had been con­ducted and there­fore the south­ern African coun­try was just stock­pil­ing di­a­monds.

Chid­hakwa said there were still huge di­a­mond de­posits in eastern Zim­babwe.

PIC­TURE: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP

FALLEN: Zim­babwe’s di­a­mond out­put from its ma­jor mines in the eastern part of the coun­try has fallen to shock­ing lev­els amid re­ports that the gov­ern­ment-owned Zim­babwe Con­sol­i­dated Min­ing Com­pany (ZMDC) is strug­gling to meet tar­gets

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