Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rich Rewards From Chiadzwa Takeover, Says Zimbabwe Mines Ministry
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Zimbabwe is primed for rich pickings from the Chiadzwa diamond fields after a decade of losing out to foreign entities, with the newly-constituted Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company expected to sell 500 000 carats every month at an average value of US$25 million, it has emerged.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said following the consolidation of mining activities in Chiadzwa, about 250 000 carats would be auctioned by the end of this week.

By the end of the month, ZCDC would have sold about 300 000 carats, and the figure will jump to 500 000 carats by April 30.

At an average auction price of US$50 per carat, sales of 500 000 carats translate to US$25 million monthly and US$300 million per year from Chiadzwa alone.

This will be a significant rise from the US$157,2 million which found its way into the fiscus from Chiadzwa diamonds in 2015.

Official figures from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme show that the country earned just US$2,5 billion in 10 years of private operations in Chiadzwa, prompting Government to move in and sort out the mess.

According to Minister Chidhakwa’s projections, the country can earn between US$25 billion and US$30 billion in the next decade compared to the US$2 billion realised since 2006 when private firms were given the greenlight to dig for diamonds in Marange district.

President Mugabe has indicated that the country could have lost US$15 billion to the diamond miners over the last ten years.

The opacity of operations saw Government ordering companies such as Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments, Gye-Nyame and Kusena to stop operations in Chiadzwa to allow ZCDC to move in.

Mbada and Anjin are contesting the Government takeover in court.

Minister Chidhakwa said consolidation of Chiadzwa operations would bring greater benefits to Zimbabwe.

He said as of Thursday, ZCDC had delivered about 130 000 carats and another 120 000 carats were expected early this week ahead of an auction.

The Mines Minister said while this week’s auction would have less than the 289 000 sold in January, the figures would certainly improve following ZCDC’s acquisition of two X-ray transmission (XRT) diamond sorting machines.

“In this transitional period, we expect production to pick from about 250 000 carats to 300 000 then 500 000 carats from April going forward. We have since acquired two XRT machines that help identify diamonds and this will certainly help in the detection of the gems.

‘‘Resultantly, production will increase,” said Minister Chidhakwa.

He added that a number of new concessions in Chiadzwa had been registered under ZCDC.

In an interview with ZBC TV to mark his 92nd birthday a fortnight ago, President Mugabe said the State had been left with no choice but to monopolise diamond mining in Chiadzwa.

He said, “I don’t think we have exceeded US$2 billion or so, no and yet we think that well over US$15 billion or so have been earned in that area. So where have our carats been going, the gems?

‘‘A lot of swindling and smuggling has taken place, and the companies that have been mining, virtually, I want to say robbed us of our wealth,” said the President.

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