FRESH invasions of Chiadzwa diamond fields by illegal miners have stalled operations of the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), resulting in the company failing to meet its monthly production target of 200 000 carats, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Elias Mambo
ZCDC expects to produce 2,5 million carats this year after acquiring equipment worth millions of dollars which has been expected to push production figures upwards.
However, sources said mining operations have been stalled by a new diamond rush as illegal miners have invaded Chiadzwa again.
As reported by this newspaper, ZCDC security details recently shot and critically injured Tryagain Mpofu, a resident of the local Chiadzwa area, amid a fresh diamond rush rocking Manicaland.
The shooting incident comes when bodies of three illegal miners were recovered in the Marange diamond fields last month.
In an interview last week, Mpofu confirmed that hundreds of illegal miners have invaded Marange again. The shooting incident occurred when he met them as they were being chased by ZCDC security details.
“I was walking close to the ZCDC security fence when I came across hundreds of illegal miners running in the opposite direction. I could not join them as I was on my journey home and there was no reason to run away because I was not part of the panners,” he said.
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.
In order to attain a diamond target output of 6 000 000 carats as projected in the 2016 National Budget through the consolidated company, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, in close liaison with the ZCDC and the Mines ministry, have instituted measures which include increased access to long-term and working capital financing.
This saw the ZCDC purchasing equipment worth millions of dollars with hopes of increasing the production levels.
Besides a fresh invasion by illegal miners, the ZCDC is also still battling ongoing legal battles over the ownership of mining claims and this has also contributed to the low production volumes.
In his recent interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, 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.