Community to benefit in Vast diamond plan

07 Jul, 2019 - 00:07 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Ishemunyoro Chingwere
Business Reporter

AIM listed mining and resource development concern, Vast Resources PLC, says it has drawn a master business plan that will see the investor, Government and the Marange community benefiting from its diamond extraction operations.

The company said it has crafted a business model it thinks shall be used to benchmark future business deals to be cut that will send right messages to the financial markets that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business.

The United Kingdom headquartered firm had early 2018, struck a deal for the exploitation of the Heritage Diamond Concession with the local community operating under the banner of the Marange-Zimunya Community Trust.

The deal has, however, taken a new form after the mining concern was excluded from the four mining houses that will be allowed to mine Zimbabwean diamonds that are:  The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Alrosa, Anjin and Murowa Diamonds.

Instead, Vast will now partner the state owned ZCDC, but the firm said its plan will still encompass the community that it said must benefit from the diamond mining activities, while Government’s needs are also taken care of.

“. . . Vast remains committed to investment in Zimbabwe, turning its focus on commencing the community based diamond mining projects in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange together with the community with a view to extending the project in other areas throughout Zimbabwe,” said the group in a statement signed by chief executive officer Andrew Prelea.

“The intention of this investment is to demonstrate the ability of business, community and Government to work harmoniously and create a benchmark for the way in which the country’s natural resources can be exploited for the benefit of all stakeholders.

“. . . the project plan is to implement the communities “masterplan” that incorporates, schools, medical centres, local beneficiation of the diamonds, rehabilitation of the land post extraction to create an agricultural centre and employment of the local community.

Added Mr Prelea: “This project is to work within the guidelines of the new diamond policy announced in December 2018 and will be a first of its kind.

“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to work together with the Zimbabwean Government and local communities to set a benchmark for doing business in Zimbabwe that could potentially set a precedent of how Government, community and business can work together in a long-term mutually beneficial manner that will send the right message to the financial markets that not only is “Zimbabwe open for business”, but it is open for doing business where everybody benefits.”

Last week, the concern made a presentation at this year’s Arab and African Mining Conference in London where Mr Prelea talked up the company’s investment in Zimbabwe saying they envisage an annual turnover of US$53 million.

This will be preceded by an initial six months of operation that will see the firm sinking US$29 million per year in expenditure.

A geological assessment, Mr Prelea said, had quoted grades for the area as anything between 100 and 200 carats per 100 tonnes of ore with a conservative price averaging US$80 per carat.

“Projections indicate revenue after six months of US$13,25 million per quarter on expenditure of US$7,25 million per quarter after initial operating requirement including capex (capital expenditure) of US$5 million,” Mr Prelea told delegates to the Arab and African Mining Conference in London.

“Independent geological assessment quoted grades for the area as typically 100–200 carats per 100 tonnes and average prices of US$80 per carat,” he said.

Diamonds are a strategic sector for Government as they are expected to play an integral part in growing mineral exports from US$3,2 billion achieved last year to US$12 billion per year by 2023.

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