ZCDC em­braces ar­ti­sanal gem min­ing

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - BUSINESS - Africa Moyo Se­nior Busi­ness Re­porter

THE Zim­babwe Con­sol­i­dated Di­a­mond Com­pany says ar­ti­sanal min­ing in al­lu­vial fields should be em­braced as a de­vel­op­men­tal thrust if the di­a­mond sec­tor is to sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­ute to eco­nomic turn­around.

ZCDC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Dr Moris Mpofu told The Sun­day Mail Busi­ness last week that global di­a­mond ex­perts en­dorsed ar­ti­sanal di­a­mond min­ing dur­ing the re­cent Kim­berly Process meet­ing in Brus­sels, Bel­gium.

Dr Mpofu’s re­marks fol­low un­prece­dented crit­i­cism of the de­ci­sion by ZCDC to con­sider al­low­ing ar­ti­sanal min­ers to par­tic­i­pate in min­ing of al­lu­vial gems.

Op­po­nents of the move claim it can lead to delig­itimi­sa­tion of Zim­babwe’s di­a­monds on in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

Dr Mpofu said ZCDC was “mo­ti­vated” by the fact that its po­si­tion on the sub­ject was in sync with per­spec­tives of in­ter­na­tional di­a­mond ex­perts as aired dur­ing KP dis­cus­sions in Brus­sels.

“By their own ad­mis­sion, Kim­berly Process can­not ig­nore ar­ti­sanal di­a­mond min­ing in African coun­tries, which they be­lieve must be em­braced as part of de­vel­op­ment,” said Dr Mpofu.

“What is of paramount im­por­tance is that ar­ti­sanal min­ing should be viewed and treated as part of the di­a­mond in­dus­try and must be done un­der eth­i­cal con­di­tions. It’s some­thing that is good for African coun­tries and the com­mu­ni­ties.”

At the Work­ing Group on Ar­ti­sanal and Al­lu­vial Pro­duc­tion on the side­lines of the ple­nary meet­ings, KP mem­bers ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of hav­ing a clear and trans­par­ent reg­u­la­tory frame­work for ar­ti­sanal min­ing.

Mon­i­tor­ing is cen­tral to en­sur­ing at­tain­ment of or­gan­ised ar­ti­sanal min­ing.

Dr Mpofu said ZCDC was con­duct­ing a fea­si­bil­ity study and was con­sid­er­ing ring-fenc­ing its al­lu­vial fields for ar­ti­sanal min­ers.

“The dis­cus­sions at KP on this sub­ject con­firms that ZCDC is on the right track. ZCDC is ex­plor­ing the con­cept of le­gal­is­ing ar­ti­sanal min­ers and rope them in its in­te­grated di­a­mond min­ing model. We hope that through the in­te­gra­tion of ar­ti­sanal min­ers, ZCDC would con­vert a threat be­ing posed by il­le­gal min­ers into a win-win op­por­tu­nity for all par­ties,” said Dr Mpofu.

The State-owned miner plans to ring-fence al­lu­vial fields that are no longer vi­able for mech­a­nised min­ing.

Dur­ing the KP meet­ings, mem­bers were re­minded that ar­ti­sanal min­ing was at the core of the KP’s very es­tab­lish­ment.

An un­der­tak­ing was made for the KP to as­sist African coun­tries pro­tect and pro­mote ar­ti­sanal min­ing.

Ex­am­ples from other coun­tries have demon­strated that it is pos­si­ble for ar­ti­sanal min­ers to make the tran­si­tion from il­le­gal sub­sis­tence ac­tiv­ity to le­git­i­mate, eco­nom­i­cally-vi­able ar­ti­sanal min­ing. In Zim­babwe’s case, the tran­si­tion is ex­pected to largely ben­e­fit lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties who will have reg­u­lated ac­cess to ZCDC al­lu­vial fields.

They will sell their out­put to Gov­ern­ment through ZCDC.

Dr Mpofu said the “strate­gic move” would plug di­a­mond leak­ages and dec­i­mate il­le­gal di­a­mond mar­kets.

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