Diamond production up 44 pc

STATE owned diamond mining entity, the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), has recorded a 44 percent increase in production after it hauled just over 1, 5 million carats of the precious stones in the period January to June 2018.

The jump puts the state miner in good stead towards attaining its annual target of an 84 percent jump from the previous year, which could see ZCDC getting 3 million carats, compared to 1, 8 million achieved last year.

The increase in production is in line with Government’s call to increase production to optimum levels in all mining operations around the country as the push to achieving President Mnangagwa’s call for an upper middle income country by 2030 gathers pace.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail Business, ZCDC chief executive officer Dr Moris Mpofu attributed the increase to a number of interventions by the state miner, among them continued investment in modern mining equipment.

Resumption of conglomerate mining after the depletion of alluvial mining has also played a part.

“Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has produced 1 561 121 carats from January to June 2018, an increase of 44 percent and 83 percent for the same period in 2017 and 2016 respectively,” said Dr Mpofu.

“ZCDC is now on track to achieve its targeted full year production of 3 million carats by the end of 2018.

“Due to the depletion of known rich alluvial deposits, ZCDC carried out an intense exploration of the conglomerate and the positive results led to investment in hard rock mining of the conglomerate ore and a new processing plant.

“The processing plant has the capacity to process 450 tonnes per hour and comprises a three-stage crushing section to liberate the diamonds from the conglomerate host rock and a diamond recovery section using state-of-the-art X–ray technology,” he said.

ZCDC’s conglomerate processing plant, purchased at a total cost of $25 million, is the first of its kind in Zimbabwe, equipped with fifth generation X-ray recovery technology and a Mega Diamond Recovery (MDR) section for the recovery of large diamonds which were previously left out in past mining operations.

The state miner has also taken delivery of mobile conglomerate crushing units as well as earth moving machines to match the conglomerate plant feed requirements, bringing the total project investment to US$100 million.

ln the medium term, the miner intends to invest a further $400 million in its operations as it targets to get to 11 million carats by 2025.

Of the $400 million, $200 million will be financed through foreign direct investment while the other $200 million will come from the firm’s diamond sale returns.

The 2025 target, if achieved, will see Zimbabwe becoming the fifth largest producer of diamonds by volume behind Russia, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Australia.

To that end, ZCDC has previously had exchange programs with Botswana where the local miner sought to mimic Botswana’s diamond value chain.

Botswana is the second largest diamond-producing country in the world by volume but are the world’s leading producer by value.  In 2013, the Southern African country hauled 23, 2 million carats of the precious stones which earned them US$3, 63 billion with value sky-rocketing largely due to effective marketing and beneficiation.

“This trend (growth) sets ZCDC on a positive trajectory to achieve its 2025 target of 11 million carats, which equates to a 488 percent increase from 2017,” said Dr Mpofu.

“ZCDC is well poised for growth and will become the fifth largest producer of rough diamonds in the world by 2025. ZCDC will invest approximately $400 million into its operations by 2025 to build capacity in exploration, mining, processing and diamond value management and enable sustained production,” he said.

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