The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), according to a column written by President Mnangagwa in The Sunday Mail, that the country's diamond output was expected to shatter previous records. Zimbabwe aims to produce (at a stretch) three million carats this year, driven by a US$100 million investment in operations over the last two years. The ZCDC unearthed 2.4 million carats between January and October 2018, a significant increase over the 1.8 million carats achieved last year. ZCDC chief executive officer Dr. Moris Mpofu told The Sunday Mail that, should they reach their 3 million carat upper limit, it would represent an increase of 54% from the 1.56 million carats produced in 2017, and 168% from the 895,000 carats produced over the same period in 2016. Zimbabwe has currently reached 80% of its target production.
Challenges remain, however, as fuel and foreign currency shortages, as well as rising inflation have taken a toll on the national economy. For example, gold producer RioZim has halted operations at three of its mines in the country after running out of foreign exchange to pay its suppliers and sustain operations. Zimbabwe's bond note, a surrogate currency introduced in 2016 to mitigate the liquidity crisis at the time, has been falling rapidly against the US dollar, and a controversial 2 cent per dollar tax on electronic transactions is sparking a surge in fuel prices. Dr. Mpofu said to circumvent energy challenges, ZCDC was setting up a solar power plant in Marange for its operations. The diamond miner is tendering for pre-feasibility, and its initial assessment is that the solar plant will be between 15MW and 20MW and cost around US$24 million. Surrounding schools and clinics will benefit from the solar power plant.
Mpofu also said ZCDC plans to invest US$20 million in the establishment of a state-of-the-art Diamond Value Management Centre (DVMC) to enhance capacity in cleaning, sorting, valuation, sales and security. “This will be a high-tech facility that is expected to satisfy all international best practices of effective and efficient diamond value management. The DVMC will feature technology such as the fully-integrated sort house which will see the use of hands-free technology to sort diamonds using advanced machines that sort diamonds according to colour, clarity, size and shape or possible cut. The technology will ensure operational efficiency in the downstream processes." ZCDC has also started exploring possible partnerships with other international diamond companies that have well-developed value management technologies.
MoU with India
Meanwhile, The Indian Express reports that India may soon start buying diamonds directly from Zimbabwe, as a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in the presence of Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu in Harare last Saturday. Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa reportedly thanked India “for being supportive of Zimbabwe during its period of isolation” and was “deeply appreciative of India’s stand that it refused to join others in imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe” over the last few years. India's Secretary (Economic Affairs) at the Ministry of External Affairs, TS Tirumurti, commented, “we have proposed to them that we would be quite happy to do direct diamond trade with them, because of now Zimbabwean diamonds come to India but from different channels.” Zimbabwe, he said was “extremely enthused with the idea of direct diamond trade with us” and there was a “very concrete outcome of the discussions”.