Zimbabwe Diamond Output, Sales Dipped in 2013

Harare: Zimbabwe’s diamond output declined 26.1 percent to 8.9 million carats last year, according to Equity Communications, reports Rough&Polished.
The Harare-based research company said in a statement emailed told Rough&Polished that Zimbabwe was the only “major” diamond producer, which experienced a “sharp” decline in production and sales last year. It said diamond production in the Southern African country took a knock due to two reasons.
“First, Zimbabwe held watershed elections that introduced socio-economic policy uncertainty during the campaign period and this affected operations of mining companies,” said Equity.
“Second, the alluvial deposits in the Marange diamonds fields are now considerably depleted after five years of formal mining activities.”
The country’s diamond output was projected to remain in the 9 million carats range (if not lower) this year.
The Zimbabwean government was currently reviewing mining licences in the Marange diamonds fields and intended to reduce the number of operators to two.
Equity said this would likely affect mining operations for the companies since security of tenure was no longer available.
“As things stand, Zimbabwe is still investigating the best way to consolidate the various operators in Marange. Thats the first step. If consolidation occurs, then the next step would be to stabilise and rationalise production in the concession areas,” said Equity’s Tinashe Takafuma.
“After that, the third step would be to optimise production and map out plans for underground mining. Finally, large capital investments would then be required to explore the underground operations. We are looking at 3 to 5 years of preparation.”
Meanwhile, the research company said Zimbabwes rough diamond sales reached $466.9 million last year. This was a decline of 38.4 percent when compared to the sales recorded a year earlier.
The decline was attributed to revenue leakages and the fact that Zimbabwe had sold most of its accumulated stock of diamonds in 2012 after the Kimberley Process lifted the lid on exports. It was also due to the fact that diamond producers recovered fewer diamonds in 2013.