MUTARE, March 20 (The Source) – Government-owned Mbada Diamonds has started small-scale mining of conglomerate and kimberlitic diamonds as alluvial stones continue to dwindle, mines minister Walter Chidhakwa has said.
Marange diamond miners, who have been engaged in open cast operations, in 2013 said they had hit hard rock and that alluvial deposits were thinning out on their allocated concessions. They also said the deep seated conglomerate diamonds were not commercially viable.
“I went to Marange to see the exploration work that is being done by Mbada. They have started doing a bit of conglomerate (diamond mining) as well and also kimberlite. If they can do that, then that would take the company forward,” he told The Source on Friday.
He refused to give more details.
Last year, Mbada indicated that it was importing new state-of-the-art machinery to extract deep-seated conglomerate and kimberlitic diamonds.
Chidhakwa also said he had directed Mbada to re-engage its retrenched workers.
The company had reduced its workforce from approximately 1,800 to 500 due to low production as alluvial gems ran out.
“They said the low production forced them reduce their staffing levels. But my position was that once they have done exploration and discover more diamonds they can then reengage those people and take the company to a new level not based on alluvial diamonds only but a combination of all,” said Chidhakwa.
The minister has proposed to bring all diamond mining operations in the country under one firm in which the state will have a 50 percent shareholding.
Other miners in the Chiadzwa area include Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Anjin, Jinan and Mbada Diamonds.
The proposal includes Murowa Diamond Mine near Zvishavane owned by global resources giant, Rio Tinto plc.