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Zimbabwe's billion dollar diamond fields!

by Staff reporter
12 Jan 2014 at 08:07hrs | Views
New diamond fields in Umkondo Basin, running between Manicaland and Masvingo, are set to transform the local mining industry and possibly realise billions of dollars in profits for the country following revelations that the Government is planning to begin work on the vast reserves soon.

This comes as the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development had said that companies operating in Chiadzwa are free to move out after some of them had claimed that diamonds at the fields were running out.

The unexplored fields in Umkondo Basin - stretching over 10 000 square kilometres, almost the size of Swaziland - are gravitating to the centre of attention, as Government focuses on mining as one of the key sectors expected to spur economic development.

It is understood the reserves hold huge potential and will likely see authorities using approaches that seek to capitilise benefits. Indications are more meticulous processes that include exploration will be introduced to build on lessons learnt from Chiadzwa.

In Chiadzwa, companies ventured into operations before due exploration had taken place. As a result, the extent to which the country can benefit from the reserves there remains speculative.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo told The Sunday Mail in an interview that Government has already begun mobilising funds to carry out exploration in the basin.

He said the ministry will channel part of its 2014 National Budget allocation to this exercise, adding that the entire basin is a Government-reserved area. It is under reserved area 1587, which can only be acquired through a special grant. Outside of Chiadzwa, some of the areas in the Umkondo Basin include Bikita and Chimanimani where diamonds have since been discovered.

A joint venture company, comprising the Development Trust of Zimbabwe and a Russian firm, mining diamonds in Chimanimani is also exploring parts of the basin.

"We are very much aware of the potential diamond reserves in the Umkondo Basin. We are actually going to use part of our National Budget allocation to send our experts to carry out exploration activities in the area," said Moyo.

"The Umkondo Basin is a reserved area. It has huge potential of diamond reserves and as Government we need to urgently move in to determine the areas that possess a high concentration of diamonds.

"It is a very huge area. So, obviously the whole area cannot contain a large concentration of diamonds, but the fact is there is huge potential. What we need to do is mobilise funds to carry out extensive exploration that will determine the areas profitable to mine.

"We have not done much exploration of the basin, but the joint venture company is mining diamonds in Chimanimani and they are also carrying out exploration in the areas surrounding their concession."
In an interview last week, Geological Survey deputy director Mr Forbes Mugumbate also confirmed that the basin is potentially a major diamond reserve for the country. He, however, referred further questions to Mines and Mining Development Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga, who could not be reached for comment.

"The Umkondo Basin has a huge potential of diamonds. It is the same area in which the Chiadzwa area as well Chimanimani and Bikita are contained. This alone shows that we might be potentially sitting on huge diamond reserves," he said.

Although Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa was not available to comment on Umkondo Basin, he told The Sunday Mail in an earlier interview that there is still huge potential for diamond reserves in Marange even though the companies mining there claim the precious stones are running out.

"As a ministry, we believe that there is still huge potential in Chiadzwa. We do not believe that diamonds in Chiadzwa have completely run out. What we believe is that as a result of the mining that has been taking place in Chiadzwa, there is bound to be a reduction in the quantity of the output that is being realized, but that does not mean the diamonds are running out.

"We have two types of diamonds - kimberlites and alluvial. The companies in Marange have been mainly concentrating on alluvial, which is easier and less-costly to mine. But what we said to the companies is that they were supposed to mine both the alluvial and kimberlites.

"A company that is provident should mine both the alluvial and kimberlite. The fact that they might have exhausted the alluvial deposits does not mean diamonds have run out."

According to information gathered last week, Umkondo Basin's diamond geological make-up was first discovered by De Beers in the 1980s after the company was granted exploration rights by Government to search for diamond kimberlitic pipes in the Beitbridge region linking Manicaland following the diamond belt that stretched through southern African countries such as Namibia and Botswana.

After discovering several kimberlitic pipes in the Beitbridge-Manicaland areas, De Beers, in the early 1990s, reportedly concealed information about the mineral composition of the basin from Zimbabwean authorities.

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Source - sundaymail