HARARE – Diamond miner Marange Resources (Private) Limited (Marange) is planning exploration activities in Buhera and Chimanimani.
The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) wholly-owned subsidiary — whose principal operations are in Manicaland’s Marange fields — is also reportedly in talks with Mbada Diamonds to enhance their cooperation in exploration.
Mark Mabhudhu, Marange’s chief operating officer said the company was ready to be on the ground once it gets an environmental assessment certificate.
“We have engaged the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) to conduct the environmental impact assessment study for the diamond exploration project,” he said.
Mabhudhu said the company — which is also involved in extraction, processing and sorting of diamonds — will however not be looking for a partner to help it in the exploration activities.
“We will be doing the exploration on our own and we hope to create employment should we find more diamonds in the areas,” he said.
Zimbabwe holds the number six spot in terms of world diamond deposits — and a potential to control about 25 percent of diamond supply — the country currently produces about 8,2 million carats annually and is vigorously pursuing efforts to value add its minerals, particularly diamonds.
In March this year four kimberlitic pipes rich in diamonds were discovered in Budzi communal lands in Bikita near the border with Manicaland Province.
The four rock formations infested with diamonds discovered here, experts say, are likely to see Zimbabwe consolidating its position as one of the top world diamond producers.
Obed Dube, Marange chief executive told businessdaily that the company planned to double its production from the current 115 tonnes per hour dense medium separation plant due to state-of-the-art diamond recovery technology acquired by the firm.
The new technology — known as the X-Ray Transmography (XRT) — is similar to the one used by major diamond-producing nations such as Russia, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo and costs an estimated $250 000.
It enables diamond sorters to separate rubble from mined diamonds during the grading process.
Also, the machine’s enhanced selectivity technique allows for the recovery of diamonds only and limits the extraction of other problematic minerals whose behaviour is similar to diamonds when exposed to X-ray radiation.
Marange is currently mining both alluvial and conglomerate diamonds in Chiadzwa.
The alluvial mining is expected to continue through to 2014 by which time the open pit mining for conglomerate will have been finalised.
Ultimately, it is envisaged to develop into an underground mine.