Zimbabwe Gov’t Diamond Co. CEO Touts Plan to Reverse Diamond Curse

Mining and Exploration
01/08/2017 13:47

CEO of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Dr. Moris Mpofu, last week described plans for reversing the resource curse in the country's tumultuous diamond industry with the creation of a multinational diamond park in Mutare - Zimbabwe's fourth-largest city situated on its eastern border. Mpofu said Mutare, whose local Marange residents have been duped by the empty promises of previous miners, would soon be home to a diamond park with business spanning the value chain, that would create thousands of jobs and, "put the eastern border city on the world map." He described the ZCDC as, "A game changer." Observers of the country's diamond industry, past and present, may be excused for being skeptical of its promise.

"Broadly," Mpofu stated, "ZCDC has developed the Diamond Mining Business Model which focuses on ... stability, growth and sustainability. Corporate social responsibility takes a pivotal role in this business model [to] transform the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans. ZCDC was tasked by the Minister of MInes and Mining Development, Walter Chidhakwa, to establish a multinational diamond park in Mutare." Not quite finished with the good news, he continued, "It shall house all related all related businesses and institutions in the diamond value chain from mining to retail. Our motto is: 'From the mine to the finger'. We want to come up with a complete diamond value chain in Mutare." Mpofu first introduced the business model back in May, saying it would first address all legal issues to fully consolidate the mining industry, create stability and transition from alluvial to conglomerate and kimberlitic mining.

The latest announcement came in the same week that ZCDC security guards were said to have killed an illegal diamond miner after 200 villagers reportedly tried to invade the mine’s diamond sorting room armed with machetes and wrenches. Minister of  Mines and Mining Development Walter Chidhakwa accused the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers stationed in Marange of colluding with criminals to allow them access to the Chiadzwa diamond fields. He also said suspected diamond looters once plotted to assassinate him.

The past two years in Zimbabwe's diamond industry have been particularly contentious, as seven foreign diamond mining firms were evicted from Chiadzwa as ZCDC took over operations. Chiadzwa has been a hotbed since 2006, when alluvial diamonds were first reported there. A police and army operation in 2008 cleared the area of illegal diamond diggers, and rights groups said up to 200 illegal miners were killed. This past April, Mining Zimbabwe wrote that residents of Penhalonga - a mining village in the province of Manicaland, located 18 km north of Mutare - were worried following reports that there could be deposits of kimberlite in the area, fearing that the same experiences of violence and uncompensated displacement that happened at Marange could be repeated in their community.

Mpofu then went on to elucidate the Zimbabwe's plans for growing its diamond industry through exploration, evaluation and development, given that its alluvial diamond deposits had been significantly depleted. "We need to create a bankable diamond reserve for the nation ... The future of diamond mining in Zimbabwe is in conglomerate mining, which requires greater investment in both mining and processing capacity." He says their investment in equipment, "Displays our long term commitment to the business and re-emphasises our pledge to mine diamonds for both current and future generations."