The Sunday Mail
Africa Moyo Senior Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), is on an intensive drive for diamond resource expansion programme as it seeks to increase revenue generation and create decent jobs in line with President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030.
ZCDC, mandated by Government to carry out exploration, mining, processing, recovery and marketing of diamonds for the country, has already discovered kimberlite pipes in various areas including Chihota and Masvingo,in a move designed to broaden its mandate.
At the moment, ZCDC is mining in Marange and it extracted 2,8 million carats last year.
Last week, ZCDC chief executive Dr Moris Mpofu, told The Sunday Mail Business that in Chihota, there are three kimberlite pipes that were discovered by former exploration companies which carried out exploration around 1996 and 1997.
“. . . ZCDC is on an intense drive for diamond resource expansion programme throughout the country,” said Dr Mpofu.
“The company has acquired the Chihota kimberlites amongst other pipes in Masvingo Mining Province, Matabeleland South and Manicaland Provinces as potential targets for economic evaluation for mine development and diamond production to sustain the nation and ensure Zimbabwe achieves the Vision 2030 objectives of middle income economy.
“(The) Chihota kimberlites project area consists of three kimberlite pipes that were discovered by former exploration companies that carried out exploration in the late nineties (about 1996 and 1997) (and) each pipe is approximately 1ha (one hectare) in size where it has been exposed.”
Geologically, the Chihota communal lands is characterised by granitic terrains and gneisses of the Archean craton.
This is a stable environment conducive for the formation of diamonds through intrusion by kimberlite pipes.
Dr Mpofu said ZCDC has carried out desktop studies, which include literature review of historical data and work done by other companies previously that have worked in the area.
This is despite lack of the important results of work done by the previous companies, which remained private intellectual property and were not in the public domain.
“The proposed work programme includes lithological and structural mapping, high resolution geophysical surveys, which include ground magnetics, electromagnetics and ground penetration radar to determine the presence of subsurface structures.
“(There will be) further geochemical sampling to identify any potential pipes in the area. An exploration DMS plant (10tph) is going to be established in the field for the purpose of processing bulk samples to determine if the kimberlite pipe is diamondiferous.
“Macro and micro diamond analysis will determine the grade, quality and the dollar value per carat of the recovered diamonds in order to come up with the business case for the pipes and investment decision.”
Further evaluation depending on the initial phase entails diamond drilling and large diameter drilling to determine the diamond resource tonnage and mineralisation distribution.
This will help provide geo-technical data for mine feasibility studies.
But Dr Mpofu said all its activities will be carried in an environmentally friendly manner, in compliance with legal requirements and ensure sustainable management of natural resources and protection of the environment.
“. . . and Chihota kimberlite pipes are being treated the same,” said Dr Mpofu.
This comes as ZCDC issued a notice recently that it had engaged a local research institute to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study on its behalf.
The EIA study assesses the environmental and socio-economic impacts of the project and suggests mitigations for all anticipated significant negative impacts.
Banks and bilateral aid agencies require an EIA before extending funds for projects. Some EIAs that overlook the negative effects of the project on communities and the environment find it difficult to mobilise funding.
Dr Mpofu said ZCDC was aware that its activities may result in detrimental environmental impacts, hence the need to carry out an EIA.
In Zimbabwe EIAs are done in compliance with the dictates of the Environmental Management Act (CAP 20:27) as enshrined in Statutory Instrument 7 of 2007 Environmental Management (Environmental Impact Assessment and Ecosystems Protection) Regulations, 2007.
Dr Mpofu said the EIA certification process, which includes a stakeholders’ consultation meeting, which was held on December 11 last year, will enable ZCDC to be awarded a social license to carry out the exploration work in harmony with the community and in an environmentally sustainable manner.
ZCDC’s move to intensify diamond resource expansion programmes comes at a time the Diamond Policy was recently approved by Cabinet.
The policy says ZCDC and Murowa are the two local diamond miners, which would be joined by two foreign firms, Alrosa Diamond Company and Anjin Investments.