Zimbabwe is to enforce stronger local oversight over the diamond mining sector under a proposed new management regime.
There are currently six entities operating in eastern Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamond fields and four are jointly owned by foreign companies. The country’s mine minister is proposing a raft of measures to consolidate operations, chief among them, ensuring less foreign control.
Five years after the military cleared out thousands of illegal miners to restore order, killing some and sparking international outrage, mining operations at Chiadzwa Diamond Fields are being reconstituted again.
A Chinese, Lebanese and South African company are among the entities mining alluvial diamonds in partnership with the state. But up until now, they had control of the administration and management of the operations.
Zimbabwe Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa, says: “We have been discussing some scenarios where we create one entity and everybody buys shares if they wish. But because they have not run things as well as we wish they should have run them, we want to have a strong management impact on the companies. We will not leave it to the foreigners to run it.
Zimbabwe accuses mines of opaque dealings
However, Zimbabwe accuses mines of opaque dealings. It believes the contribution of revenue to the state coffers should be greater, given the diamond grades and rate of mining.
Zimbabwe says the focus of the next phase will be underground mining. This, as at least one company says, its alluvial concessions are running out.
Chidhakwa says he will appoint a board of directors.
“I am trying to put together a board of directors which will put in place a team and we have these companies from day one…then we can start negotiating with the others.”
Mbada Diamonds, a company co-owned by South Africans, did not respond to enquiries.
Zimbabwe still struggles to balance the expectations of big business and a population waiting for the impact of gems to change their lives.