By Bernard Mpofu, HARARE, April 28 (The Source) – Government has withdrawn the diamond mining licence of Gye Nyame Resources (GNR), its joint venture with a Ghanaian investor, over non-performance, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said on Monday, as the state moves to consolidate its control of the Marange gems.
Chidhakwa last week said he had informed diamond companies in Marange that only one or two of them will be left to mine after they failed to account for revenue from their operations.
The Gye Nyame was at the centre of a bribery scandal last year when President Robert Mugabe claimed that the former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa, had demanded $6 million in bribes to facilitate its entry into diamond mining. Mugabe eventually cleared Masimirembwa of any wrongdoing.
State firm ZMDC is Gye Nyame’s partner in the joint venture.
“We have withdrawn the Gye Nyame licence purely because of non performance. We will take two mining concessions because they do not belong to anyone. All other concessions will fall under Marange Resources,” Chidhakwa told journalists on Monday.
“We now expect to meet with our Chinese and Lebanese partners (in other mines). We intend to outline to them how we wish the industry to be run to ensure maximum value of the people of Zimbabwe.”
In addition to Gye Nyame, there are six diamond miners in Marange, including Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds.
He said government has tasked the new ZMDC board, chaired by former Bindura Nickel Corporation managing director David Murangari, to breathe life into redundant state-owned mines.
“There are things that were left by the previous board that must be fulfilled. These include the resuscitation of the mines. You have in your portfolio a whole list of dead institutions—from Kamativi to Mhangura, from Mhangura to Zvishavane,” Chidhakwa said to the new ZMDC board members he met at his central Harare offices.
“All these are properties that sit on your balance sheet and yet do very little to enhance your balance sheet and it is the responsibility of the board to ensure that all these institutions are given life again. Most of these were closed because the prices of minerals were very low and I’m happy to announce that the prices then and now are very different.”
Mining has overtaken agriculture as the leading export earner, with mineral earnings of $1,97 billion in 2013 making up 64 percent of total foreign currency earnings.
“I want to say it from the onset that the shareholder does not have financial resources, all we have is the support that we can give you to ensure that you leverage (the sources), that you think of ways of raising financial resources whether through joint venture partnership or through loans and credits–you have to think about those things,” Chidhakwa said.