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Zimbabwe confident of producing 6m carats next year

by Staff reporter
23 Oct 2022 at 09:07hrs | Views
Zimbabwe is confident it will produce six million carats and generate US$1 billion from the diamond industry next year in line with set targets, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando has said.

Under Government's ambitious plan to grow the mining industry to US$12 billion by next year, the sector is projected to contribute US$1 billion.

Gold, which is Zimbabwe's major foreign currency earner, is expected to generate US$4 billion, while platinum is forecast to bring in US$3 billion.

When the plan was launched in October 2019, mining contributed only US$2,7 billion to economic growth.

However, this had risen to US$5,3 billion last year.

In 2021, diamond production stood at four million carats, up from 1,8 million carats recorded in 2018.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business after officiating at the inaugural gemstones conference organised by the Zimbabwe School of Mines in Harare last week, Minister Chitando said the set target in the production of precious stones was on the back of expansion projects, as well as value addition and beneficiation initiatives in the sector.

"All I can say is we are achieving US$1 billion next year . . .

"During the Covid-19 pandemic, the diamond industry became subdued. I would rather focus on the future and on the fact that we are going to do over six million carats next year, through which we will achieve our US$1 billion," he said.

"On the diamond side, we are very clear in terms of the gemology centre, value addition and the arrangement between ZCDC (Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company) and Aurex, and various other value addition initiatives which are being undertaken."

Current projects under expansion and development include Alrosa, Anjin and Murowa Diamond.

Russian giant Alrosa, which is one of the world's largest diamond producers, boasting an annual turnover of 35 million carats, has been reported to have made huge strides at its Malipati Diamond Project in Masvingo province.

In March last year, Murowa Diamond, a subsidiary of RioZim Limited, announced its intention to plough US$450 million for an extensive expansion drive at its operation in the Midlands province.

In his address at the conference, Minister Chitando said the envisaged national goal of achieving an upper middle-income economy by 2030 was premised on growing production in various sectors, including mining.

"The whole thrust when we talk of Vision 2030 is to grow production, hence, as part of our contribution as an industry, we came up with a 2023 milestone of growing the mining industry to US$12 billion," he said.

"That milestone included diamond and gemstones with a contribution of US$1 billion. If one looks at diamonds and isolate them, huge strides have been made in terms of growing the diamond industry.

"Firstly, from a volume perspective, we do have very significant increases in the production of diamond, with ZCDC increasing its production from 1,8 million carats in 2018 to just over four million carats last year.

"So, it's very clear what is happening on the diamond side."

He invited input into the proposed Gemstones Development Policy that is aimed at increasing production and contribution of the semi-precious and coloured stones to Zimbabwe's economy.

There are concerns the country could be losing an estimated US$2 billion annually from illegal extraction and trade of the gemstones across the country.

"We need to look at how we capacitate Zimbabwe to position itself for the optimum extraction and value addition of the gemstones.

"We need to come up with a framework from a small-scale miner perspective. How should they be organised? What should be the processing and marketing facilities?

"I really want to urge you (gemstones stakeholders) . . . to come up with a Gemstones Development Policy," he said.

In a virtual presentation at the conference, ZCDC chief executive officer, Mr Mark Mabhudhu, said the company had turned the corner after strengthening security systems in Chiadzwa, Manicaland.

"First and foremost, the diamond industry is a high security area, and one of the challenges the business was really failing to deal with was the issue of security of the product.

"As such, we had to convince the shareholder that the product is secure and, therefore, we are able to account for every stone that we mine," said Mr Mabhudhu.

ZCDC, he added, had adopted drone technology for aerial surveillance.

"Next year, we are looking at a target of around six million carats. We also note the expansion plans taking place at Murowa, where they are undertaking a US$450 million expansion, "and Anjin coming back on stream, and the work being done by Alrosa," he said.

"As part of our contribution in the diamond industry, we are going to produce a portion that adds up to US$1 billion in terms of diamond contribution."

Source - The Sunday Mail