Marange diamond licences have now expired: Minister

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MARANGE diamond miners’ operating licences have expired giving government an advantage as it seeks to arm-twist mining firms to agree to plans for consolidation of the sector.

Taurai Mangudhla

Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, who has previously threatened to withdraw or not to renew licences of mining companies refusing government’s consolidation plan, confirmed yesterday the licences of all diamond miners in Marange had expired.

Government is pushing for majority control in diamond firms amid stiff resistance from miners. Government wants all diamond mining companies to be merged into one entity called the Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Corporation (ZCDC), arguing this will help plug leakages, enhance transparency in the sector, while also improving efficiency.

The proposed ZCDC will have the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) holding 50% non-dilutable shareholding and the other 50% will be shared among the diamond mining companies currently operating there.

The proposed participating entities are Mbada Diamonds, Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan Mining, Anjin Investments, Marange Resources, Murowa Diamonds and Russian miner DTZ-OZGEO.

However, mining officials say some players, among them Jinan and Anjin, are not pleased with the processes involving the consolidation process and are resisting the arrangement.

The companies argue ZMDC will have much control over the new companies and yet it is not contributing any capital which has an established value.

They want an explanation on how ZMDC will acquire the 50% stake in the new company and what method and evaluation standard was used to arrive at 50%. The companies also feel that ZMDC will actually own more than the proposed 50% at the new company since it wholly owns Marange Resources and has shares in other diamond companies operating in Marange.

Speaking on the sidelines of the National Economic Consultative Forum’s Zimbabwe National Competitiveness Report in Harare, Chidhakwa said the consolidation could be delayed after miners proposed to put the exercise on hold.

“Well, what I can only tell you is that all licenses for companies operating in Marange have expired,” said Chidhakwa, who could not be drawn to elaborate the basis of the expiration.

Chidhakwa’s statement has been interpreted by diamond miners as government’s way of arm-twisting players into joining the consolidated vehicle.

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