Marange: Consolidation Not The Answer

Mining and Exploration
31/07/2015 15:49

Eddie Cross, an economist and MP for Bulawayo South in Zimbabwe, traces the history of the Marange area, where De Beers discovered diamonds in 2000. In 2006, African Consolidated Resources (ACR) took over their claims and revealed the presence of gem quality diamonds almost immediately. Shortly thereafter, ACR tired to set up a joint venture like that between the state and De Beers in Botswana. "For unknown reasons, this proposal was rejected by the ministry and ACR was forcibly removed from the claims which were then taken over by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), even though they had no expertise or the required capital to exploit the discovery. The ministry immediately opened up the area to small-scale miners without restriction."

These areas are now almost exhausted, but deposits remain - the major one is a sheet of agglomerate across much of the site which is estimated to contain 9 billion carats of raw diamonds. Cross says that, "The agglomerate is a very difficult system to mine and extract the diamonds. All companies on Marange have tried and failed. The original owners of Marange, ACR, claim that only Rio Tinto of London and De Beers have the capacity to mine the agglomerate. If that is the case, there is little purpose in bringing all four existing mining companies together with the ZMDC ... Surely, its time to go back to sanity, pick up ACR's idea and form a joint venture with De Beers, and then join with Botswana in a joint marketing and processing venture which will dominate world diamond trade for many years to come."