‘Allow community to benefit from diamonds’

MANICALAND Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba has alleged looting of diamonds by previous miners at Chiadzwa diamond fields and challenged the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), which is now solely responsible for mining operations in the area, to be accountable and transparent.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

“I am happy with what the ZCDC is doing at the moment, and I want to urge them to be accountable and transparent. There is nothing to hide about diamond mining. We want to see how our diamonds are being mined, and everyone in the province and the nation must benefit,” she said.

Gwaradzimba, who was speaking during a familiarisation tour at Chiadzwa recently, said it was her first time at the diamond mine and an eye-opener.

“I have been shown how the diamonds are being mined from scratch until they are a finished product,” she said.

Gwaradzimba, however, expressed concern over failure by Marange communities to benefit from the precious stones. “I have seen vast tracts of land here, and I was told that there were diamonds all over that huge land, but I am saddened that those diamonds mined did not commensurate with the development of Marange area. I understand there were previous miners here before ZCDC took over, and I am saddened that those diamonds should have brought change to the people in these communities.”

She urged the ZCDC not to neglect its corporate social responsibility programmes through which the community could benefit. ZCDC chairperson Killian Ukama said the non-availability of foreign currency, fuel shortages and incessant power cuts were hampering operations adding that the company would miss its three-million carats target for 2018. “We have been facing economic challenges and they have affected our operations. We had set a yearly target of three million carats, but by end of October, we had achieved 2,4 million carats. We are now heading towards the stressed target of three million carats by year end,” he said.

The company’s chief executive officer, Morris Mpofu, also said the company had set aside $400 million to finance its expansion programme over the next five years.

“Of that $400 million, a total of $100 million will primarily target exploration. Resource exploitation will, however, not be confined to Chiadzwa diamond deposits, but will also target other deposits in Chimanimani as well as known kimberlite in Chihota and Mwenezi,” he said.

Mpofu added that the parastatal planned to reopen River Ranch Mine in Beitbridge but did not give details.

ZCDC currently contributes about 75% of the country’s diamond production.

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