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Zimbabwe’s massive diamond fields discovery to bring billions

By Janet Shoko
Posted on Monday, 13 January 2014 11:37

The announcement at the weekend came barely a month after companies operating at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, discovered in 2008, said mining operations were becoming unviable as the alluvial diamond resources were running out.

The Umkondo Basin is a reserved area. It has huge potential of diamond reserves

The more than five companies wanted to be allocated new claims, saying underground mining would be too expensive in a country that is struggling to attract direct foreign investment.

Deputy Mines minister Fred Moyo told state media that the diamond fields located between Manicaland and Masvingo province stretch over 10,000 square kilometres.

He said the government has already begun sourcing funds to kick start operations

“It is a very huge area. So, obviously the whole area cannot contain a large concentration of diamonds, but the fact is there is huge potential,” Moyo said.

“What we need to do is mobilise funds to carry out extensive exploration that will determine the areas profitable to mine.

“We are actually going to use part of our national budget allocation to send our experts to carry out exploration activities in the area.

“The Umkondo Basin is a reserved area. It has huge potential of diamond reserves and as government we need to urgently move in to determine the areas that possess a high concentration of diamonds,” he added.

All the companies that were granted mining licenses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields formed joint ventures with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

The companies in Marange have been mainly concentrating on alluvial mining, which is easier and less-costly compared to underground mining.

Zimbabwe’s first-ever diamond auction in Belgium got off to a slow start last December with the majority of the 279 723 ct gems being of low quality and not properly cleaned, government said.

The Antwerp auction came three months after the European Union removed sanctions on the southern African country’s state mining company.

The Marange diamond fields, 400 km east of Harare, have been the focus of controversy since 20 000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008 before they were forcibly removed by soldiers and police.

Human rights groups say up to 200 people were killed during their removal, charges denied by President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Zimbabwe is believed to hold 25% of the world’s alluvial diamonds.

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