The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) failed to meet its 2019 target of 3 million carats, but officials are buoyant fortunes will turn around as the firm has consolidated its investments in exploration, mining and processing to improve output this year.
Speaking durng a media tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields on Friday last week, Acting ZCDC Chief Executive Officer Roberto DePreto said they are aiming to double the 1.6 million carats produced last year through joint venture agreements, increased exploration as well as mitigating viability challenges, linked to power shortages and access to foreign currency.
“Since the Diamond Policy was issued we are now looking for joint venture partners, those joint venture partners get allocated a particular concession and we then subdivide the (overall) 626 special grant into specific special grants for those venture companies.
“Last year we produced 1.6 million carats and this year we are targeting to double that through our investments in new plant machinery and our exploration capabilities,” said DePreto.
Consuming an average of 5 megawatts and at 25 000 of diesel daily, ZCDC has also invested in new plant machinery from Belarus which needs foreign currency for repair and maintenance, with at least seventy percent of consumables and spares imported.
Officials said such overheads have hampered production targets, costing in total a minimum of 8 million tons of unprocessed diamond ore from the down time caused by the listed operation constrains.
Mine manager, Innocent Guvakuva said focus will be placed on optimizing processing capacity, already on a positive trajectory following acquisition of new plant machinery, as well as improving power supply to reduce production downtime.
“Last year there were issues to do with power, this year there has been a bit of improvement but last year it was worse, issues to do with fuel and general forex availability because 70 percent of all consumables and spares we import.
“So, if your foreign currency access scenario is not stable you are bound to suffer, but this year things have started on a better note… one of the biggest challenges in Zimbabwe is that we are a cash economy.
“We lost a lot last year in terms of production down time we lost, probably in terms of total material mined we are looking at about 8 million tones that we could have moved last year, which is very big,” said Guvakuva.
He added, “We have installed a 450 ton per hour plant it’s got phases now we are installing phase three where carat production is expected to go up, our focus now in terms of mining we are stable but it’s the liberation and optimization of the plant that we will work on.”
Guvakuva said focus will also be placed on greenfield and ground field, together with exploration contractors under a ‘hybrid exploration model’ in the seven approved special grants in regions considered diamondiferous.
“We are increasing our exploration through a hybrid model in the sense that we have our own exploration drill rigs, commissioned them in 2018, they are called diamond drill rigs that can drill up to 250 metres, we have what we call a Reverse Circulation Rigs (RCO).
“We have also engaged contractors which makes it the hybrid model, they have done work right now the contract has ended, but we are doing a lot of exploration we have a lot of ground field and greenfield projects all over the place.
“ZCDC we have seven approved special grants, in this whole area which is about 26 to 30 kilometers its assumed to be diamondiferous, but the economics of it is what we do through exploration. To say we will be here for two or three years I will be lying (is an under estimation) but we will be here for a very long time,” said Guvakuva.