ZCDC struggles to meet target

THE state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is failing to meet its monthly production target of 200 000 carats due to several factors, including ongoing legal battles over the ownership of mining claims, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Elias Mambo

ZCDC expects to produce 2,5 million carats this year after acquiring equipment worth millions of US dollars.

This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plunder at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.

When government arbitrarily shut down seven mining companies in Chiadzwa in 2016, some of the firms launched court applications challenging the seizure of claims. Government ordered all diamond miners in the area to cease operations after they declined its proposals to nationalise the industry. The government said the miners’ licences had expired and accused them of failing to account for revenue from their operations.

Sources said government has been battling the court wrangles which at times forced the ZCDC to stop mining operations.

The affected miners were Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources, DTZ-Ozgeo and Mbada Diamonds.

They challenged the consolidation in the High Court but lost the case. They have since appealed to the Constitutional Court.

Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Ltd at one time obtained a court interdict seeking to stop the ZCDC from looting its ore dumps.

This came amid reports that since the end of Mbada operations on February 22 last year, illegal panners have breached security to loot more than 150 000 tonnes of diamond ore stockpiles that were ready for processing.

Early this month, the ZCDC suffered another major blow after being ordered to immediately shut down its mining operations by the High Court amid reports its activities do not meet Environmental Management Authority (Ema) regulations.

The High Court ordered the state-owned ZCDC to stop diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa with immediate effect until it has been granted an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certificate.

This was after the Marange Development Trust (MDT), supported by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, dragged the ZCDC to court for carrying out mining operations without the EIA certificate.

The ZCDC has so far produced 900 000 carats from its Marange fields, less than a third of the 3,2 million carats produced over the same period last year, as court cases in which evicted miners are challenging a government decision to expropriate their claims took a toll.

ZCDC chief executive officer Morris Mpofu said production has remained on the negative side of 200 000 carats monthly, owing to the migration programme which the company is undertaking.

He also said the conglomerate plant will be completed by the fourth quarter of this year to pave way for the company to embark on kimberlitic mining which requires huge investment.

The ZCDC has so far taken delivery of new mining equipment worth US$30 million which has been expected to push production figures upwards.