COVID-19 pandemic stalls diamond deal

LONDON Stock Exchange-listed Vast Resources’ joint venture to commence diamond mining in the Marange diamond fields has been stalled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company’s CEO Andrea Prelea said negotiations would resume post-Covid-19.

“In Zimbabwe, we are waiting for Covid-19 to be over. We will resume from where we were (in October 2019), and sign the joint venture agreements to mine in the community concession in Chiadzwa,” he said.

Zimbabwe has been battling Covid-19 since March 2020 and successive lockdowns have hampered movement of people and slowed business.

Vast Resources was negotiating a joint venture agreement with State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) in October 2019.  Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando also made similar pronouncements during the same period.

The foreign company, through Katanga Mining Private Limited, had already sealed an agreement with the Chiadzwa community.

However, the final deal is still hanging.

The joint venture has been delayed despite Vast Resources commitment to “focus on the advancement of its two core assets, the Baita Plai Polymetallic Mine in Romania, and the Chiadzwa Concession in Zimbabwe.”

Prelea said the Baita Plai Polymetallic Mine was operational at a time the Chiadzwa Community Diamond Concession is stuck.

The company recently lost its executive director Mark Mabhudhu who crossed to ZCDC.

Vast Resources encountered bottlenecks during its negotiations with ZCDC and government as the original draft agreement was altered several times.

Some of the notable changes involved the concession up for allocation, which was not part of the land cited in the initial agreement.

The Vast Resources boss said they would not dispose of the asset despite setbacks.

“We are going to hold on to it (Marange Diamond) because it’s a valuable asset,” said Prelea.— Staff Writer.