Gift Phiri 9 June 2017
HARARE – Diamond production in Zimbabwe fell 6 percent in the first
quarter after government took possession of all diamond operations
ostensibly because previous miners had robbed the country of its wealth.
During the first quarter of 2017, total diamond output stood at 567 024
carats, 6 percent lower than 603 590 carats produced in the comparable
period of 2016.
The latest figures reveal a dramatic slump in production in Zimbabwe,
which was the eighth largest diamond producer in the world with 4,7
million carats in 2014, according to industry group Kimberly Process.
“The decline in diamond production is attributable to the transitional
challenges involving the consolidation of former diamond companies into
one State company, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), since
February 2016,” Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said in the latest
Quarterly Treasury Bulletin.
This comes after the Mines ministry ordered diamond mining firms to halt
operations in February last year and leave the Marange fields as their
licences had expired.
The diamond fields in the east of Zimbabwe near Mozambique were mined by
Eight, including two Chinese-run companies, were joint ventures 50 percent
owned by the government and the other one was wholly owned by the State.
The State-owned ZCDC now holds all the diamond claims in the country.
“In 2017, diamond production is projected at 1,9 million carats
underpinned by envisaged successful capitalisation and full production at
ZCDC,” Chinamasa said.
“Government is already working on addressing challenges related to legal
wrangles and capitalisation of ZCDC.”
The largest diamond mining firm booted out of Marange, Mbada Diamonds, has
dragged government to the High Court over its eviction and has been given
the green light to take control of its mining assets but has been
Chinese-run Anjin Investments also challenged the government ban at the
One of the firms extracting gems in Marange, Jinan has already wound up
its operations – pulling its $4 million equipment from the area in April.
ZCDC took delivery of $30 million worth of equipment from Belarus last
week to enable it to process kimberlite diamonds.
The equipment was acquired under a local facility arranged by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe and is earmarked for upgrading and redesigning mining
Chinamasa said “secured equipment, to the tune of $30 million, is expected
to support higher throughput”.
Prior to the government takeover of diamond firms, President Robert Mugabe
had told Chinese President Xi Xinping during his visit to Zimbabwe in
December 2015 that his government was not getting much from Chinese-owned
diamond mining firms.
He also told State TV during his traditional birthday interview last year
that the country had lost an estimated $15 billion to leakages in the
“Companies that have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth,
that is why we have now said the state must have a monopoly,” Mugabe said.
“The State will now own all the diamonds in the country.”
But the ZCDC, which was formed last year after government expelled all
diamond miners in Marange, has failed to deliver.