via EDITORIAL COMMENT: Diamond miners must invest in plants | The Herald December 10, 2013
Companies mining diamonds in Chiadzwa say they have run out of alluvial deposits on their claims and need more claims to create capital to extract the conglomerate deposits. This proposal is highly questionable given that the world over it is known that diamonds can either be alluvial or conglomerate, and a miner strips off the alluvial first before getting to the conglomerate.
We heard one of the companies claim that mining conglomerates is not economically viable yet another company within the same locality says it is making money off the conglomerates.
Why did these companies not use the proceeds of the present claims to develop the conglomerate operations? What will have changed at the new claims that they are hankering for?
But the Government should also be held to account. As the custodians of the country’s resources, did the responsible authorities act in good faith, employ critical foresight and exercise due diligence before awarding tenders to their prospective partners?
What sort of contracts were awarded to the investors who came in as partners to exploit the diamond fields? Did they specify development as part of the deal?
Anjin started extracting conglomerate diamonds soon after they started work on the alluvial deposits. But they have laid off about 50 percent of their 1 800 workforce and are planning to pair off the remaining figures by another 200.
Independent exploration surveys have estimated that each mine has enough deposits for about 35 years. So for Anjin to now claim that their claims are not viable seems suspicious.
Did they work at a demonic pace to extract diamonds and they are now facing exhausted claims? If that is what they did, then they need to explain where they put the revenues.
Did anyone make an attempt to study the operations of Public Private Partnerships in diamond mining in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and even further afield so that we could improve on their experiences?
Of grave concern is why the mining companies have apparently been allowed to run without much oversight of the Government which owns shares through ZMDC.
Are these bodies not an integral part of the operations?
It does not make sense for Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa to be in the dark concerning revenues and dividends from the diamond companies in which the State owns 50 percent shareholding.
The situation becomes even murkier when the minister raises the same query over Marange Resources which is wholly owned by the Government.
And where has the minister been since his appointment for him to only visit this crucial area now?
Earlier on Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo said that production targets were not being met – with capital, mine planning and geological matters causing problems.
He also hinted that the miners seemed to be concentrating on exploring rather than mining which perhaps explains their wish to gain monopoly over the whole Marange belt by demanding yet more claims.
Recently, local diamond polishers revealed that they have been getting poor grade stones yet internationally the market is filled with buyers wanting Zimbabwean stones.
That seems to suggest that choice quality is being siphoned out of the country to sidestep efforts at value addition.
Why do the mines want more claims? They must work on what they have and show value to the nation before they can even be considered for another round of alluvial sites.