MUTARE-BASED miner DTZ-OZ GEO (Pvt) Limited says it has found conglomerate deposits capable of producing 2,5 million carats of top quality diamonds in the province’s Chimanimani area.
By Taurai Mangudhla
The company, a joint-venture mining firm established in 1994 and jointly owned by the Development Trust of Zimbabwe which was established by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and Russian company Econedra Limited, has been doing extensive exploration work on its claims in Chimanimani over the past two years.
The company in July this year acquired a state-of-the-art 70 tonne Dense Media separation machinery projecting processing capacity of up to 50 000 carats per month, DTZ-OZ GEO deputy managing director Bornwell Mupaya told journalists during a tour of the company’s gold mining operations in Penhalonga last week.
“The diamonds are smaller, but are of better quality than those found in Marange because they are conglomerate with 40 to 50% being gem quality,” Mupaya said.
However, the cost of mining the stones is much higher than alluvial diamonds.
“Despite the cost, we have done our work and we have seen that we can mine in a way that makes economic sense,” Mupaya added.
The DTZ-OZGEO deputy managing director said exploration was still ongoing amid indications the Kimberlite could be near the Chimanimani deposits.
“Experts have come from Russia and they said we could find the Kimberlite pipe if it has not deformed over the years.”
In terms of operations, the company has a sort house in Penhalonga where all sales are conducted. The company employs experienced sorters who have a wealth of international experience and have worked with companies like Alrosa. The sorters also train local people to acquire sorting and grading skills using Russian standards.
According to DTZ-OZGEO, current diamond mining has to target the competent conglomerate with drilling and blasting.
The company said mining at the Chimanimani deposits focuses on the 30 degrees steep dipping conglomerate body which has a huge variety of diamond morphologies, including well-formed octahedral crystals.
DTZ-OZGEO has an alluvial gold mining operation in Penhalonga with capacity to produce up to 20kg per month.
The mine was shut down by the Environmental Management Agency on grounds the company had failed to meet environmental standards last month.
The new diamond mine will add to two diamond producers outside Marange — namely Murowa Diamonds and River Ranch.
Seven diamond mining companies — Anjin Investments (Anjin), Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Gye Nyame, Jinan Mining Private Limited (Jinan), Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds — are operational in Marange and have been extracting alluvial diamonds mostly.
However, the alluvial deposits are fast running out and companies are required to invest in new technology for conglomerate diamond mining which they claim is not commercially viable.
The miners have failed to get maximum value for their produce due to embargoes against the trade of the Chiadzwa diamonds in Europe and America on allegations of human rights violations.
The players, through the help of government and Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, have looked for new and better marketing options amid growing support from the international community for free trade.
Global diamond watchdog Rapaport this week reported that the first tender of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe to be held in Europe following the removal of sanctions would take place at the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility from December 11 to 16.
The tender offers about 300 000 carats from Anjin, DMC, Jinan, Kusena and Marange Resources.