ZIMBABWE’S wholly state-owned diamond miner Marange Resources is on the verge of concluding negotiations for a joint diamond cutting and polishing venture with the Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe (RBZ), highly placed sources say.
A company owned by the two entities will be established in the first half of this year with a view to value add diamonds and gold as well as manufacture finished jewellery. Gold will be sourced from RBZ’s gold buying and selling unit, Fidelity Printers and Refiners.
Sources close to Marange Resources said negotiations were at an advanced stage and the state owned diamond miner requires investment in the region of US$500 000 to contribute its share of the joint venture.
“A lot of equipment and required technology has already been purchased and is being set up somewhere in the capital,” said a source who requested not to be named, adding the company would make an official statement in due course.
Efforts to get an official comment from Marange Resources acting chief executive Mark Mabhudhu were fruitless at the time of going to print.
Sources at the RBZ also confirmed the deal was taking shape although there are a few outstanding issues. Insiders said the central bank would partner Marange resources through its diamond cutting and polishing unit Aurex Private (Aurex) which is expected to resume operations soon. Over and above the diamond cutting and polishing, Aurex is involved in the manufacturing of jewellery.
“The issue is very simple because we have the diamonds and the gold so why not just value add and turn this economy around?” said a central bank insider.
“We have been negotiating for a while now with Marange resources and yes we are at the final stages, but we have issues to do with how Aurex will maintain some form of autonomy in the partnership,” added the central bank source.
However another concern is the fate of Marange after conclusion of an ongoing consolidation exercise which could result in all the diamond miners in Marange being bundled into a single company.
According to initial proposals of a process that was supposed to be completed by end of March, government will own 50% of the new company while the other five diamond miners will share the remaining half based on their balance sheets.
However, other government officials have been pushing for Marange Resources to remain independent and acquire more claims.
Marange Resources has already been given claims that belonged to Gye Nyame and Kusena after the two diamond miners went under due to funding and operational constraints.