Harare: The government of Zimbabwe reports it has doubled its diamond production to 1.8 million carats in 2017, from 961,000 carats in 2016, the drop in production exacerbated by Zimbabwe’s merging of diamond mining companies previously operating in Chiadzwa diamond fields into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
The rise in diamond production is expected to translate into increased economic development. ZCDC CEO, Dr Moris Mpofu, said in an effort to achieve an effective system of diamond value management, the company had stopped selling diamonds in February last year. However, Mpofu added that after putting in place appropriate systems for sorting and evaluation, the ZCDC is now ready to return to the market by the first quarter of 2018.
The biggest development, if it comes to fruition, is that ZCDC says it is also working to transform from alluvial to conglomerate diamond mining by the first quarter, in line with the new political leadership’s 100-day ‘quick win’ targets. Since diamonds were discovered in the area, companies that were given concessions to mine were only conducting alluvial mining, which resulted in the depletion of its easily available resources. Those companies had no equipment to do kimberlite mining. Conglomerate diamonds are located deeper than the alluvial ones but have more value compared to the alluvial diamonds and need highly technological equipment to extract.
Conglomerate diamonds are a rock consisting of individual stones (larger than sand) that have been cemented together and require highly mechanised machinery to extract. Zimbabwe’s diamond industry is working with Botswana to benchmark best practices and diamond mining technology systems. The Government through the ZCDC has set sights on expanding diamond exploration to other parts of Manicaland and invested $80 million in exploration and equipment from Belarus.