With the emotive issue of Zimbabwes diamonds likely to be part of a heated debate at tomorrows European Union meeting in Brussels, Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) caught up with the executive chairman of African Consolidated Resources (ACR) Roy Tucker (RT) while on a flying visit to Zimbabwe after attending a mining indaba in Cape Town, South Africa, where ACR was exhibiting for the sixth straight year, promoting itself and the countrys mining potential.
AMHs Group Associate Editor Brian Mangwende (BM) spoke to Tucker on a variety of issues including his views on sanctions imposed on Zimbabwes diamonds.
BM: How long has ACR been operating in Zimbabwe?
RT: ACR has been operating in Zimbabwe since 2004 and has invested more than $50 million largely in new greenfield exploration.
BM: What attracted you to Zimbabwe?
RT: First of all initial shareholders of ACR knew Zimbabwe well and believed in its future. They recognised its enormous geological potential particularly if modern mining methods were brought to Zimbabwe.
For instance in 1975, Zimbabwe was the fourth or fifth largest gold producer in the world ahead of Australia.
Zimbabwe has similar geological features to Western Australia and since 1975, Western Australias gold production has had many orders of magnitude greater than those of Zimbabwe.
There is no reason why Zimbabwes gold production could not equal that of Western Australia if modern mining methods were brought to Zimbabwe and supported by a favourable investment regime.
BM: What makes ACR different from other mining sector companies in Zimbabwe?
RT: Most companies have concentrated on developing extensions to known mineral deposits. ACR has concentrated primarily on making new discoveries. New discoveries are the seeds for the future. Without them there would be no new mines in 30 years.
BM: Have you been successful in making new discoveries?
RT: Before dealing with the matter of any dispute, I am very proud to say ACR has made no less than three major discoveries gold, platinum and diamonds.
BM: But havent you got a dispute regarding your diamond discovery at Marange?
RT: We are obviously disappointed that there has been a dispute as to what we consider to be our rightful claim at Marange. The dispute remains subject to court action if not resolved. However, ACR is continuing in our effort to resolve this amicably with the government through dialogue in the interest of all parties.
BM: What is ACRs relationship with De Beers?
RT: None whatsoever.
BM: What is your attitude towards indigenisation?
RT: We wish to be a responsible corporate citizen operating under the laws of the country. We support the principle of indigenisation and of the support of local communities near to where we operate. Every country has its laws and we recognise Zimbabwe has its laws as well.
BM: Sanctions are an emotive and topical weapon at the moment particularly in light of recent publicity of the embargo on Mbada and Marange diamonds by the United States government. What is your view?
RT: It is our view that these be removed unconditionally. Sanctions have not been helpful in achieving any of their objectives. In our opinion, the removal of sanctions will greatly encourage transparency and accountability to the national fiscus.
BM: How do you view ACRs future in Zimbabwe?
RT: We intend to be in Zimbabwe for years to come and to be a major driver in the Zimbabwe mining sector.