MINES and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa yesterday said Zimbabwe still had diamonds, but will not issue new claims to mining firms that only wanted to rely on alluvial gems in Marange.
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Chidhakwa was responding to a question by MDC-T Midlands senator Morgan Komichi who wanted him to explain to Senate if it was true that Zimbabwe had run out of diamonds.
He said the claims had come from some firms in Marange who did not want to explore and invest on earth-crashing machinery to find diamonds, but preferred easy mining like in the case of alluvial diamonds.
“Last year I had two requests from companies to the effect that diamonds were finished and they wanted more claims, but I said it was premature for them to say so until such a time there was exploration,” Chidhakwa said.
“It is easier to do alluvial diamond mining and those companies did not prepare themselves for extensive mining to go down doing earth crashes looking for conglomerates and kimberlites.”
Chidhakwa added: “We will not allocate new concessions to mining companies until and unless they show that they had done exploration and report show that there are no longer alluvial diamonds. We do not want companies to scrap the top for alluvial diamonds that are easy to mine and then move away to another area and do the same.”
Masvingo senator Misheck Marava (MDC-T) asked Chidhakwa to explain his plans to resuscitate the comatose Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM).
Chidhakwa said $6 million was required to start operations at SMM, adding what was hampering progress were the lawsuits in South Africa that businessman Mutumwa Mawere had filed and were still to be completed at the Supreme Court there.
“SMM is one of the three companies we discussed during my first meeting with President Robert Mugabe and he ordered that I should keep it going. The asbestos there is of high grade which means we can do mining, but the problem is antiquated equipment and lawsuits by Mawere at the South African Supreme Court. We have no doubt we will win the case and we need $6 million to kick start SMM,” Chidhakwa said.