BY MISHMA CHAKANYUKA
The state-controlled Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) says it expects to double its diamond production to 6,12 million carats next year up from the 3,1 million carats projected for 2019.
At its peak in 2012, Zimbabwe produced 12 million carats, but in 2018 production was low as 2,8 million carats.
The Southern African country is believed to have the potential to account for 25% of the global diamond production and it is targeting to expand its diamond industry to 10 million carats by 2023.
“In 2017 we produced 1,8 million carats of diamonds, in 2018 we got 2,8 million carats and this year our target under revision is 3,1 million carats,” ZCDC acting CEO Roberto De Pretto (pictured left) told journalists in Harare on Friday
“Our target for next year is 6,12 million carats of diamond.’
Pretto said the diamond miner assumed a huge legacy debt from the seven diamond mining companies that operated before ZCDC was established in 2016.
Zimbabwe’s diamond industry has been facing issues of alleged gross corruption and looting.
The seven firms that mined diamonds in Marange and other areas had their licences withdrawn and their operations were consolidated under the ZCDC.
“We assumed a lot of debt from the seven diamond mines that operated before us,” Pretto said.
“Some of the debt was assumed through purchased shares and the debt amounts to over $100 million. We have to make sure we cover that debt.”
Pretto said the ZCDC was in the process of scanning the whole country to identify potentially viable diamond miners to increase output.
He said there was need to tighten controls to avoid leakages in the diamond mining sector.
“Most of the country’s diamonds are being lost through illegal panners who are operating in the mines and people who are stealing the diamonds,” Pretto added.
“We cannot quantify how much diamonds we have lost as it is difficult, but all we can say is diamond discovery has declined over the years.”
Pretto said the ZCDC wanted to see the expansion of markets for Zimbabwean diamonds to centres such as Mumbai and Dubai.
The country has an ambitious target to expand its mining industry from $4,8 billion revenues to $12 billion by year 2023.
Harare has targeted global mining giants such as Russia’s Alrosa to ramp up diamond production.