STATE owned diamond mining entity, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond (ZCDC), will next year invest $21 million in the establishment of a Geology Strategic Business Unit (SBU) that will explore known conglomerate diamonds deposits as well as scan the entire country for Diamondiferous Kimberlite pipes.
The mining entity has been forced to go for the capital and mechanically intensive conglomerate mining after the depletion of alluvial deposits that sparked a diamond rush in Chiadzwaa decade ago.
Besides initial exploratory work done this year, on the back of a $7 million investment that saw them procuring exploration and evaluation equipment, deposits at Chiadzwa fields have never been extensively explored, leading to speculative suggestions that $30 billion worth of the precious stones could be buried under Chiadzwa.
However, the Geology SBU will not limit its work to known deposits such as the ones in Chiadzwa and Chimanimani, but will stretch its focus to cover the whole country for possible Greenfield deposits.
Other areas that will be targeted include Chihota, Masvingo, Ngulube, Binga and Katete, which are believed to have diamond deposits that can be exploited for fiscal benefit, boost production and create jobs in line with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call.
The country’s premier geological research organisation, the Zimbabwe Geological Survey Department (ZGS), whose mandate is to collect and archive information relating to the country’s mineral resources but has for long been pegged back by funding limitations, will also partner ZCDC in the exploration work.
ZCDC Chief Executive Dr Moris Mpofu confirmed the development, and said the investment will go a long way in ensuring diamond mining sustainability, which requires expansive evaluation and exploration.
“In order to expedite exploration work, ZCDC will invest $21 million in 2018 and establish a fully-fledged Geology SBU that will be focusing on exploration and evaluation work in the country,” said Dr Mpofu.
“The SBU will have a dual focus, one will be evaluating all the known kimberlites in Zimbabwe and the other will be embarking on the greenfield projects to search for new unknown kimberlites throughout the country.
“At Chimanimani and Chiadzwa mines, evaluation activities include target defining geophysics surveys comprising resistivity, ground magnetometer and ground penetration radar. Bulk sampling is ongoing to determine the grade and quality of diamonds of conglomerate at the out crops.
“The investment of $21 million is in line with the expected business growth which entails the company doubling its 2016 diamond output of over 950 000 carats.
“The ore resource expansion programme, which aims to identify additional ore resources around the mines, is in progress and involves bulk sampling of alluvial resources and evaluation of the known kimberlite pipes such as Wengesi in Chiadzwa, and other known surrounding kimberlite pipes.
“Evaluation work comprising of mapping, geophysics, bulk sampling, diamond drilling and large diameter drill hole has also been planned for resuscitation of a diamond mine in Matabeleland South in 2018,” he said.
Dr Mpofu said ZCDC would also enter into a joint venture agreement with Mining Promotion Corporation (MPC) to carry out evaluation work throughout the country in an effort to speed up evaluation work and open more mines.
He said ZCDC will use the $21 million to procure requisite equipment and technical skills.
To date, MPC has already commenced exploration activities for gold and diamond.
In a statement to The Sunday Mail Business, the ZGS Director Dr Mabasa Hawadi confirmed the exploration collaboration with ZCDC.
“ZGS will provide all the available geo-scientific information on the targeted areas whose prioritisation will be jointly made,” said Dr Hawadi.
“ZGS will also monitor the exploration activities for compliance with set work programmes and standards,” he said.
Government’s interventions are meant to optimise returns from the country’s vast mineral deposits to grow mineral exports from $2 billion earned last year to $3 billion.