Sunday, March 31, 2013

Chiadzwa Diamond Production to Double in Zimbabwe

Chiadzwa diamond production to double

Sunday, 31 March 2013 00:00
Itai Mazire and Kudakwashe Mutandi
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

Diamond output from the Chiadzwa fields is set to double following the acquisition of a state-of-the-art ore processing machine by one of the five companies extracting the gems in the area.

Information gathered by The Sunday Mail Business indicates that all the mining firms in Chiadzwa, namely Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company, Anjin and Rera Diamonds, will benefit from the second front-end module expected to be delivered this week.

Italian-based engineering and equipment supplier Tenova Bateman Technologies Modular Plants (TBTM) revealed that it had completed the first stage of a contract to supply a second front-end module for a diamond company in Chiadzwa.

The Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Mr Gift Chimanikire, confirmed the development but would not reveal the name of the diamond mining firm since the machine had not yet been delivered.

“Our diamond mining firms have for the past years been developing their various plants to suit with international standards set by other mining giants in the world,” said Mr Chimanikire.

“About two years ago we commissioned a module plant for Anjin, and several companies there (in Chiadzwa) have been striving to acquire the latest ore-processing plants.

“Definitely after the machine has been installed we expect the diamond production to boost.”

When installed, the second front-end module is set to increase the ore-processing capacity of the companies operating in the fields.
TBTM said the diamond firms were currently processing about 200 tonnes of ore per hour.

“The aim of the project is to increase the ore-processing capacity from the existing 200 tonnes per hour to 400 tonnes per hour,” said the Italian company in a statement.
“The 200 tonnes per hour scrubber section, with a de-grit module, will match the existing 200 tonne per hour scrubber and screening section. It also includes the in-plant conveyors, as well as modifications to the existing conveyors and bins, to enable handling of the ore to and from both scrubber sections.”

The supply contract was signed in 2012 comprising two stages conducted in July and August last year.

The first stage comprised of the engineering study, detail design and procurement of long lead-time equipment.

The final stage involved procurement of the balance of equipment, fabrication, pre-erection and commissioning of the new module.

Fabrication of equipment and structures has already started and is well within schedule, with pre-erections currently in progress.

The new technology is similar to the one used by major diamond-producing nations such as Russia, South Africa and the Democra­tic Republic of Congo. Currently, Marange Resources, one of the pioneer companies in Chiadzwa, has been producing an average 150 000 carats of diamonds per month since March last year with the use of high-technology X-ray transmogra­phy machinery.

Companies in Marange have the capacity to produce 500 000 carats per month, but illegal sanc­tions that have been imposed by the United States and the European Union have restricted production to at least 100 000 carats per month.

Mines Minister Dr Obert Mpofu has since said such impediments were slowing down expansion plans of the major mining firms in Chiadzwa.

“Sanctions imposed on the country by the US and the EU are still the main threat to Zim­babwe’s diamond trade. For us to buy letters of credit and import spare parts and equipment from Europe and the East, our diamond firms have resorted to buying through third parties, which is very expensive not only in monetary terms but in terms of time as well, which has slowed down growth plans being implemented by the companies,” he said.

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