INTERNATIONAL diamond players, including Botswana registered company First Element Diamond Services (First Element), are flocking to Zimbabwe for opportunities to exploit the country’s vast diamond deposits, businessdigest has learnt.
This comes after a Belgian diamond delegation toured the country recently. Zimbabwean officials in turn also toured Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world.
Highly-placed sources said this week First Element, which runs dual tenders in Gaborone (Botswana) and Antwerp (Belgium), was among a visiting group of foreign investors touring the country’s diamond deposits.
The company is expected to clinch a deal with the Zimbabwean government that is likely to see the company getting vast diamond claims in the country.
“These Belgians were here and have had two meetings with senior ministry officials about their intentions,” said a source who requested anonymity.
Insiders see the move as Zimbabwe’s way of paying back Belgium for its critical stance against European sanctions on the Marange diamonds.
First Element is an independent Botswana-registered company which provides diamond cleaning, valuation, sorting and marketing services.
The company has expertise in valuating and tendering run of mine production and has offices in Gaborone, Johannesburg and Antwerp.
First Element last year partnered London Stock Exchange mining junior-quoted diamond mining and exploration company Firestone Diamonds to open a new tender facility at the Antwerp World Diamond Centre.
Zimbabwe’s interest in First Element is believed to be driven by the desire to start marketing its diamonds locally after Diamond Trading Company (DTC), a subsidiary of De Beers, relocated its London-based sorting and sales activities to Botswana in November 2013.
In an interview, Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Fred Moyo said a number of investors were keen on Zimbabwe’s extractive industry, particularly diamonds, but could not shed light on the specific negotiations with First Element.
“A lot of companies come but I think the permanent secretary is best placed to give details on specific companies because he is the one who deals with that especially at the early stages,” Moyo said.
“What I can tell you is that as a ministry we welcome all investors who want to come and invest in our economy, not only in diamonds but in all minerals.”
Moyo said government was currently seeking investors willing to make serious commitments towards exploiting the country’s Kimberlite diamond deposits.
“We want to balance the two where the alluvial diamonds are being exploited and at the same time we get Kimberlite,” he said.
Local donor funder research group Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) this month reported Russian diamond mining giant, Alrosa, is also believed to be prospecting in Zimbabwe after the discovery of new diamond deposits outside Marange.
CNRG said diamonds have been recently discovered in Bikita and Chimanimani.
The research unit said four kimberlitic pipes rich in diamonds were discovered in Budzi communal lands in Masvingo province’s Bikita district near the border with Manicaland Province in March 2013.
Bikita sealed off
IN February this year, former Mines minister Obert Mpofu said government had sealed off newly discovered Kimberlite diamond deposits in Bikita to stop illegal mining of the precious stones.
He said some villagers reported that there were diamonds in the Devure Range and the Chinese had already done some prospecting.