THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) said on Friday it was aiming to ramp up output to 10 million carats per annum in the next two years as it seeks to enhance benefits accruing to the nation through the exploitation of diamonds.
Despite discovering huge diamond deposits in the eastern parts of the country over a decade ago, Zimbabwe is yet to realise meaningful benefits from their exploitation.
Companies that were operating in the area previously have been accused of fueling leakages at the expense of the country, especially following the revelations by the late former President Robert Mugabe that the country could have been prejudiced of revenues amounting to billions over the years.
While the figure remains contentious, no one has doubted the occurrence of leakages in the sector. ZCDC acting chief executive officer Rob De Pretto told journalists that production was steadily increasing since they commenced operations in 2016. He said production reached 1.8 million carats in 2017, 2.8 million carats in 2018 while the target for this year and next year is 3.1 million and 6.12 million carats respectively.
With the increasing production trend, De Pretto said the diamond miner was motivated to replicate successes that other countries such as Botswana and South Africa had recorded through diamond exploitation.
“Look at what diamonds have done to those countries, those communities, they have benefited tremendously from the wealth that diamonds have brought to those countries. We have not seen that same benefit coming to our communities and country so that is what we want to do. We want to realise the full potential of our diamond endowment,” he said.
He said the ZCDC had huge plans for the local diamond sector including tying up new joint venture partners, opening up new mines and building beneficiation centres in the country.
“We have been inundated with interest from foreign and local companies eager to do joint ventures. We have signed a joint venture with Alrosa, there is another one we are about to sign next week after Cabinet approval and then there are another 11 in the pipeline.”
“Some of our Joint Venture partners are bringing in advanced technology and this is Satellite Remote Imaging; what happens is there are six satellites orbiting the earth and these satellites have the ability to penetrate up to 60-100 metres below the surface of the earth.
“So, we are going to be scanning the whole of Zimbabwe using satellite technology and it will tell us where the hot-spots are, once we know where the hot-spots are we send in our teams we do geo-physics, geo-chemistry, we do sampling, we do drilling. We do not want to leave any diamonds behind,” De Pretto said.
He added: “Each of you will benefit from the diamond sales because you will get better infrastructure etc.”
De Pretto said the ZCDC was also looking to play its part in the attainment of a US$12 billion mining industry by 2023. — New Ziana