By Tinashe Kairiza
Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) will spend at least US$200 million in 2018 open new mines in the eastern province of Manicaland as part of the mining groups expansion initiative, businessdigest can exclusively reveal.
ZCDC CE Moris Mpofu told businessdigest this week that the state-owned company will this year spend US$200 million with the bulk of resources channeled towards conducting comprehensive exploration as well as opening additional mines, among other key priority areas.
He said resources earmarked for investment this year would be financed from “reinvested earnings and foreign capital.”
“Three more mines (Portals D, Q and R) will be opened in 2018 to complement production at Chiadzwa and Chimanimani. In 2018, ZCDC has budgeted to invest close to US$200 million across the diamond mining value chain.
“Extensive investment has been made in exploration and resource evaluation to discover and validate new diamond resources and reserves across the country,” Mpofu said. He added that the miner has already spent US$60 million towards retooling and setting up a conglomerate plant.
By 2022, Mpofu said, the miner would have invested US$400 million to ramp up diamond production to 10 million carats annually.
Diamond production this year is projected to increase to 3,5 million carats after slumping to an all-time low of two million carats from peak levels of 12 million carats.
The company is set to produce 400 000 carats of diamond every month.
This month, Zimbabwe realised close to US$1 million after conducting its first diamond auction since 2016.
“Zimbabwe is poised to be among the top diamond producing countries with an estimated output of 10 million carats per annum by 2022,” Mpofusaid.
He said the miner was transforming itself into a highly mechanised firm to extract deep lying gemstones popularly know as Kimberlitic diamonds. “Over this period, ZCDC expects to invest a total of US$400 million which will be funded from both local and foreign sources,” he said.
Mpofu said the mining company would also revive “viable dormant diamond mines in Chiadzwa” and will also explore for kimberlitic diamonds in various areas across the country.
“Intensive exploration and resource evaluation in search of kimberlites will be conducted in Mwenezi, Binga, Chihota and Kezi,” he said.
“Our investments in exploration will unlock sustainable diamond value for the nation through the discovery of new diamond deposits across the country. The sector is expected to employ more than 8 000 employees in the next five years.”
With alluvial deposits now diminishing, ZCDC is currently setting up a “conglomerate plant” with capacity to produce between 200 000 and 250 000 carats per month.
The “450 TPH conglomerate plant” is expected to be commissioned during Q2 2018.
Last year, ZCDC ramped up output to 1,8 million from 962 000 carats, buoyed by the acquisition of new machinery.
The company has also invested significantly towards plugging diamond leakages which were rampant before ZCDC commenced operations in the Chiadzwa area.
“ZCDC has embarked on redesigning its Security Risk Management Framework which is aimed at tapping into international best practices and ensure the creation of a KPCS compliant security model,” Mpofu said.
“In 2017, ZCDC further invested into an enhanced security framework through introduction of unmanned aerial surveillance equipment such as drones, expanded CCTV framework, illumination of diamond fields, purchase of dogs, armoured security vehicles and increasing physical security personnel through recruitment of additional security guards.
ZCDC is currently sitting on 1,2 million diamond carats, after auctioning 600 000 carats earlier this month.