By Donald Nyarota
Diamond sector mining output for the 2020 period has been pegged at US$1 billion buoyed by investments in exploration as well joint venture agreements, officials in the diamond industry have said.
Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) will spread its exploration footprint around Zimbabwe by leveraging on joint venture opportunities, board chair Engineer Killian Ukama told delegates at the recently held all stakeholders Diamond indaba.
Eng. Ukama said there was massive interest in diamonds with at least 13 different producers expressing interest to start exploration mining. Zimbabwe has signed a joint venture with Alarosa, the world’s biggest producer of diamonds in carats.
“The Diamond Industry is expected to contribute $1 billion to the mining industry contribution target of 12 billion by 2023 under government’s Vision 2030.
“ZCDC is investing in exploration in partnership with other players in the diamond industry. We have received at least 13 expressions of interest in joint ventures, to spread its footprint in the country beyond Chiadzwa.
“It is hoped that such partnerships will yield positive results for growth of the diamond industry with the associated benefits such as increased revenue generation, employment creation, economic growth, infrastructural development and investments in downstream industries,” he said.
To achieve these lofty goals, Eng. Ukama called for a collaborative effort to get rid, in particular, of negative perception dominated by what he termed a dual portrayal of the government owned entity.
He called for unity of purpose to protect the diamond industry against an influx of negative reports around ZCDC which have an adverse effect on the market of gems produced by the amalgamated government concern.
“To fully unlock the value of diamonds it is critical that we jointly work towards building positive perceptions of our diamond industry. The perception of our organisation remains one marred by rumours, innuendo, untruths and an apparent lack of trust among stakeholders.
“As an industry which is driven by ‘the feel-good factor’ this obtaining situation has serious implications on the value of our diamonds. We need to unite in order to protect this asset,” said Eng. Ukama.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association deputy director Shamiso Mtisi said negative perception of the diamond industry in Zimbabwe can be busted by embracing responsible mining, transparency in disclosing revenue as well as upholding international benchmarks.
He said government must assess, detect and address potential negative impacts of mining operations across the supply chain, as well as adopting full disclosure practices detailing disaggregated output.
Mtisi said in light of huge investment potential through joint ventures, government must ensure due diligence in assessing potential investors in the industry.
“ZCDC must clean its image through action and join other diamond industry players who are promoting responsible mining practices
“Responsible mining and sourcing has to be based on need to manage social, environmental or human rights related impacts of mining, including responding to community needs and national development needs and growth.
“Rough diamonds may be over-taken by synthetic diamonds if we do not rebrand them as ethically mined and mined from areas free of human rights abuses, environmental degradation and poor labour standards, synthetics are being marketed as clean and not tainted by human rights violations,” said Mtisi.
“Give a national breakdown of Production from Marange voluntarily, if you are quite people will continue assuming the big guys are eating all the money from Marange, share disaggregated data of revenues, contracts signed and use of resources,” concluded Mtisi.