ZIMBABWE Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) will spend over US$20 million this year in exploration to augment its resource base, the businessdigest can reveal.
By Tinashe Kairiza
The miner will invest a total US$200 million in 2018 in exploration and open three greenfield diamond mines, among other key investment priorities.
ZCDC CE Moris Mpofu told businessdigest this week that exploration for Kimberlitic gems in Mwenezi and Chihota was already underway, while the miner was also planning to explore in Binga next year. Exploration as well as opening fresh mines would lift the miner’s diamond output from an average of 200 000 tonnes per month to 300 000 tonnes.
“ZCDC has budgeted over US$20 million towards exploration and evaluation projects in 2018, with the initial focus on Mwenezi and Chihota. The other areas targeted from 2019 going forward are Kezi and Binga. Exploration and evaluation in Mwenezi in search of Kimberlitic diamond resources is already underway,” Mpofu said. “The opening of three new portals in 2018 will be premised on ZCDC’s business strategy which also focusses on the effective operationalisation of dormant mines at Chiadzwa. The opening of these portals will enhance ZCDC’s diamond production capacity to increase from current average of 200 000 carats to around 300 000 carats per month.”
Under the exploration exercise in Mwenezi, ZCDC has partnered with the Mining Promotion Corporation (MPC), a state owned company and the Zimbabwe Geological Survey Department (ZGSD).
By 2022, Mpofu said, the miner would have invested a total US$400 million to ramp up diamond production to 10 million carats annually.
“Zimbabwe is poised to be among the top diamond producing countries with an estimated output of 10 million carats per annum by 2022,” Mpofu said.
With alluvial deposits now diminishing, ZCDC is currently setting up a “conglomerate plant” at a cost of US$60 million with capacity to produce between 200 000 and 250 000 carats per month.
Diamond production is seen this year rising 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 monthly.
Last month, Zimbabwe realised close to US$1 million after conducting its first diamond auction since 2016. The company has also invested significantly towards plugging diamond leakages.
“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.
Last year, ZCDC ramped up output to 1,8 million from 962 000 carats buoyed by the acquisition of new machinery.