Russian gem miner yet to set up shop in Zim

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LEADING global diamond producing firm, Alrosa PJSC, is yet to finalise its agreement with government to mine diamonds in the country, five months after government announced it was bringing the Russian firm on board, it has emerged. The company is still to be allocated diamond mining concessions

BRIDGET MANANAVIRE

Government sources said the deal was being delayed because of bureaucratic red tape.

The government and Alrosa announced in January that the Russian company would soon start operations in Zimbabwe to help in the development of its diamond-mining industry.

So far, only the government-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and Anjin are operating in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

Alrosa opened offices in Zimbabwe in December last year in anticipation for a quick deal.

Mines minister Winston Chitando confirmed there was no deal yet with Alrosa.

He, however, said a deal would be signed later this month.

“Alrosa has set up an office with the imminent signing of a joint venture agreement with ZCDC on some yet to be specified concessions,” Chitando said.

“The location and size as well as the value of the investment will be announced at the signing ceremony before the end of June”.

“There has been no delay. The target signing is within schedule.”

However, Alrosa chief executive officer Sergey Ivanov in January said geologists and mining engineers would arrive in Zimbabwe in February to begin operations.

“Today we see opportunities for a new stage of our partnership. We are ready to develop new joint projects for diamond exploration and extraction. We also seek to support Zimbabwe in the development of its diamond-mining industry in line with industry’s best practices. We are happy to share with our partners a wealth of experience in the field of mineral exploration and diamond mining, including the industry self-regulation and responsible business,” Ivanov said.

Alrosa previously did explorations in Zimbabwe for a few years but stopped working in 2016.

Alrosa public relations officer Yang Yushina told the Independent it was too early to talk about how much they would be investing in geological exploration in Zimbabwe.

“We have ambitious plans, we are going to stay here for a long time, but it’s too early to start discussion about the investment in geological exploration. First, we have to solve all organisational issues,” Yushina said.

“Currently we are negotiating on the terms of a joint venture with the ZCDC state-owned diamond mining company in Zimbabwe. As soon as the parties make a final agreement, we are ready to disclose our plans for the exploration programme in Zimbabwe.

“We have a preliminary list of areas for which we wanted to obtain exploration licences. However, we can discuss the details only after solving key cooperation issues with Zimbabwean partners.”

Zimbabwe’s diamond production has tumbled in recent years after the exhaustion of alluvial diamonds at the Marange diamond fields.

ZCDC was established in 2016 after government kicked out firms mining in the Marange diamonds fields and nationalised their operations resulting in national diamond output falling to 961 000 carats.

At its peak in 2012, Zimbabwe’s diamond sector produced 12 million carats.

As of April 2019, diamond output had reached 617 000 carats.

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