400 companies eye diamond licences

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The government has received 400 applications from companies interested in mining diamonds, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu said yesterday.

Mpofu told more than 600 local and foreign delegates attending the ongoing mining indaba in Harare that the applications were being processed. He said the country was among the largest diamond producing countries in the world and the resource offered opportunities to everyone.

“We have received 400 diamond mining applications and we are processing them,” said Mpofu.

Mpofu added the country remained an active participant of Kimberley Processing Certification (KPC) despite being accused of not having complied with all the requirements.

“We had companies such as De Beers exploring Marange diamonds in Chiadzwa for 15 years and they took thousands of tonnes of diamond carats to South Africa for testing whose results have not been given to us.

“There is nowhere in the world where systems are as impeccable as in Marange. They say our systems are comparable to none, but we still have people questioning our systems.

People are using the KPC for their own agenda. It’s sad, instead of promoting world trade, some people are busy deterring us. We will not pull out of KPC. There cannot be a KPC without Zimbabwe,” he said.

In the first six months of this year the country exported 716 958,50 carats of alluvial diamonds raising $103,9 million.

Mpofu said at least 10% of diamonds produced locally should be set aside for value addition, adding that the country was losing billions of dollars in exporting minerals in their raw form.

Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe president Winston Chitando said the sector was facing challenges in raising capital and this had constrained growth of the mining sector. “For those involved, it is common knowledge that raising capital is a slow process, particularly now when financial markets are not as stable as they have been in past years,” said Chitando.

He said in the first six months of the year the country approved investment projects valued at $941 million with the mining sector accounting for $260 million, indicating appetite for investment in the country.

“On the electricity front the investment in diesel generators by a number of companies, helped though at a cost, to minimise disruption to operations caused by power shortages,” he said.

Chitando said the financial services sector should provide more funding to the mining sector that received 18% of $502 million that was disbursed in the economy.