By Martin Kadzere
Zimbabwe is looking at conducting 10 diamond auctions this year, as it seeks to generate more revenue from the gems, the country’s minerals marketing agency has said.
The targeted auctions are double what the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe held last year, the State-owned entity charged with marketing all country’s minerals except gold and silver, said yesterday.
“The MMCZ can confirm that 10 diamond auctions have been proposed and the dates are to be finalised with the Zimbabwe Consolidate Mining Company,” said MMCZ.
Last year, the MMCZ conducted five auctions, which attracted buyers from the Middle East, Europe and Africa. It is envisaged that more auctions will enable Zimbabwe to sale its 3,2 million carats stockpile.
The country, which has not realised expected earnings from the diamonds since it formalised diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa, is looking at ramping up output after it approved the new national diamond policy late last year.
The Zimbabwe National Diamond Policy is expected to strengthen regulatory activities in the diamond mining sector and ensure accountability, and improve processing and selling of the precious mineral.
The policy will see only ZCDC, Murowa Diamonds and two other companies to be approved by Government undertaking diamond exploration and mining in the country.
So far, Murowa Diamonds, formerly majority-owned by Rio Tinto plc until June 2015, is the only private company still exploiting diamonds in south central Zimbabwe.
According to media reports, citing Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando, De Beers and Vast Resources will be allowed to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe, which would make them the first listed companies to mine there in that sector for two years.
Vast Resources, the London-listed company in May last year said it had concluded an agreement with Red Mercury, a vehicle owned by Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust that will see it exploiting diamonds in Chiadzwa area believed to have great potential for new discoveries of alluvial and conglomerate.
The ZCDC is mainly extracting conglomerate diamonds in Chiadzwa in eastern Zimbabwe while exploration for kimberlite diamonds in Mwenezi has also started.
The exploration works include gravity and ground magnetic geophysics. The geophysics method done on some kimberlite pipes in Mwenezi have successfully delineated the kimberlite pipes and dykes ore body outlines.
According to the ZCDC, pitting and trenching is in progress for geological mapping to further increase the confidence levels on the ore body outline. Kimberlites are geological formation of igneous rock in which diamonds are sometimes found.
Zimbabwe has more than 130 known kimberlite pipes and dykes, which occur in clusters. The Mwenezi cluster is believed to host the bulk of the kimberlite pipes and dykes of varying sizes.
Under the new diamond policy, the Government through ZCDC will hold 46 percent and the local community trusts — will be the 5 percent indigenous partners of any foreign investor who intends to undertake diamond mining activities in Zimbabwe. Government may waive that local ownership threshold subject to satisfactory submissions and due diligence for the waiver.
All rough diamonds produced from all diamond mining operations shall be submitted to the Diamond Value Management Centre to be established by the ZCDC for cleaning, sorting and valuation save for Murowa Diamonds. The Herald