President Mnangagwa’s tour of Eurasia recently, rekindled hopes that Zimbabwe still has massive potential to grab a substantial stake in the lucrative multi-trillion dollar world diamond market.
Yes, the country could have not benefited much from the previous diamond deals in Marange, but this time the leadership appears to have struck the right chords.
The Zimbabwe National Diamond Policy that was approved by Cabinet on December 4 last year, says the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Murowa Diamonds and two other companies, would be permitted to undertake diamond exploration and mining.
The intriguing news is Government has since identified Alrosa Diamond Company and Anjin Investments as the foreign companies that will participate in the country’s lucrative diamond sector.
And recently Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said: “. . . the President has put the Zimbabwean interest at the heart of exploitation of those diamonds only accepting foreign participation by way of select companies from Russia (Alrosa) and China (Anjin).”
Anjin previously mined diamonds in the country until late in 2015 when Government did not renew operating licences of diamond miners such as DMC, Kusena, Mbada Diamonds, Gye Nyame and Marange Resources.
Some reports say alluvial diamonds have dried up in Marange and the coming of world’s giants such as Alrosa that specialises in exploration, mining, manufacture, and sale of diamonds heralds the dawn of a new era in diamond extraction for Zimbabwe.
The company, which was formed in 1992 and employs about 40 000 people across the globe, says it leads the world in diamond mining by volume. Alrosa generated revenue of $4,63 billion in 2017.
President Mnangagwa met Alrosa officials in Moscow recently and the deal was sealed.
Following all these developments, what becomes more fascinating and possibly rekindling hopes of a brighter future for Zimbabweans, is that more discoveries continue to be reported in areas such as Masvingo and in Chihota near Harare recently.
The ZCDC has since engaged a local research firm to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for it. But inasmuch as the country might be endowed with kimberlite pipes of gems spanning kilometres, that alone might not be good news enough if the precious mineral is exported in its raw state for processing in Western capitals.
The preparations that are being made for the grand entry of the giants such as Alrosa and Anjin should definitely be matched by corresponding infrastructure for value addition and beneficiation.
Diamonds are a finite resource and once extracted the only memories that might remain are of gullies and heavy disused mining equipment. This therefore means any deal to be crafted should be done with Zimbabweans in minds, especially the future generation that is also expected to benefit from the resources.
It is against this background and indeed as already been reported according to the new diamond policy, local businesses will also have a fair share of the diamonds to be exploited in different parts of the country.
From the wide range of uses of diamonds including making expensive jewellery for the world’s rich and famous, we need to see Zimbabweans taking up these opportunities.
Where locals lack technologies to process other products from diamonds, our sincere hope is that companies such as Alrosa and Anjin can facilitate technology transfers from their countries.
Therefore the coming in of Alrosa and Anjin indeed heralds an era in the mining of diamonds in Zimbabwe and definitely President Mnangagwa’s dream of seeing Zimbabwe being turned into a middle income economy by 2030 will be a reality.
The benefits might not be immediate, but leadership is steadfast that there is silver lining at the end of the tunnel and only time will tell.