Source: Govt permits ZCDC to engage in alluvial gold mining – Sunday News Jul 31, 2016
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Government has given the greenlight to Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to diversify and start extracting gold on the country’s riverbanks as it bids to improve the mineral’s output.
The company was initially formed to cater for diamonds extraction. However, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the Government has agreed that alluvial mining in riverbeds, banks, wetlands and any land within 200 metres of naturally defined banks be carried out by ZCDC.
He said although the Government through its draft Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill sought to legalise riverbed mining as a joint venture between a State-owned entity and private players, Cabinet unanimously agreed that ZCDC be solely mandated to do the extraction.
“There is a standing Cabinet position that riverbank mining is a preserve of the State and we have said for now ZCDC is allocated all the river channels so that themselves they are able to do the mining on the river channels in order to ensure that the river channels are preserved. So at the moment we are not looking at any private individual doing riverbank mining,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
He said ZCDC had already started this nature of mining activity while it has also been allocated concessions in various parts of the country.
“ZCDC is mining in Gachekache River channel, we have allocated concessions and it is doing exploration work where the Save River meets Odzi River. It is doing some work there and once they finish their exploration work then they will decide what equipment to purchase and deploy. Some work will take place on the Mutare River but I said they must tell us how they are going to rehabilitate the river so that the river continues to flow,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
Zimbabwe Miners Federation chief executive officer Mr Wellington Takavarasha said there was a need for the Government to also recognise and formalise riverbank mining activities by artisanal miners.
“Riverbank alluvial gold mining originated from the artisanal and such it is also prudent for them to participate in this sort of mining. In actual fact over the years, years back, local authorities used to allocate some concessions under the Statutory Instrument 175 of 1991 for such mining activities,” said Mr Takavarasha.
ZCDC is a consolidated diamond mining company created by the Government last year to house all diamond operations as Zimbabwe battles to plug leakages in the sector. Minister Chidhakwa said ZCDC was set to increase diamond production upon the acquisition of the entire diamond fields.
He also said he was confident that the legal battle involving the Government and two Chinese-run diamond companies, Anjin Investments and Jinan Mining, would soon be concluded so that ZCDC can move into their concessions and resume mining activities.
“We are only mining two mines, the other mines are still under the old owners. We are doing everything we can to ensure that we evict the old owners. Once they are evicted, we will then have our mine manager and his team going to both mines Jinan (Mining) and Anjin (Investments) as well as Mbada Diamonds. Once they start mining there we hope that the production of diamonds will go up,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
Information released by the central bank revealed that diamond output deteriorated to 152 475 carats in the first quarter of 2016, compared to 639 377 carats produced during the same period in 2015.