Ishemunyoro Chingwere, Harare Bureau
State mining entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), will this month begin conglomerate mining following the near depletion of alluvial diamonds that were being mined at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said this highlighting that while other minerals such as gold, platinum, chrome ore, ferrochrome, and nickel were all performing according to expectation, the diamond sector was beginning to shape up.
This comes after ZCDC took over Chiadzwa operations from seven private players namely Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources, DTZ-Ozgeo and Mbada Diamonds.
However, the Minister said, the alluvial gem stones which the country has been exploiting since the discovery of diamonds in 2006 are now nearing extinction and the company will this month begin conglomerate mining which according to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development will improve the country’s mineral earnings.
“There were only two areas which we have since worked on and already there are positive growth trends. These areas are coal and diamonds,” Minister Chinamasa said last week.
“On diamonds we have capitalised the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, (with) $80 million, we have also installed new management, we were also able to produce up to now more than what we produced last year.
“. . . the alluvial diamonds are near exhaustion but we have bought equipment which is coming to start conglomerate mining in October (this month). So as far as our projection in the diamond sector is concerned we are going to exceed target,” he said.
Chiadzwa diamond fields, according to the Mines Ministry has 300 million tonnes of diamond ore containing 200 million carats and this was confirmed by Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa in June to Parliament.
This year alone ZCDC is projecting an annual target of at least 2.4 million carats and had, as at September 11, produced 1.419 million carats compared to 810 000 carats by September 30, last year with the jump signifying a 72.8 percent rise.
The 2.4 million carats will be boosted by the transition to conglomerate mining expected to resume this year.
Zimbabwe is this year targeting to grow mineral exports from $2 billion achieved last year to $3 billion.
Already chrome output in the first five months of the year had registered over 1 000 percent with a tonnage of 173 000 tonnes from 15 000 tonnes in the same period last year.
In gold, a 20 percent rise in the first half of the year was recorded compared to the same period last year with earnings in the said period this year totalling $560 million.