By Idah Mhetu
MYSTERY surrounds the return of military linked Chinese diamond mining firm Anjin and the award of a licence to Russian gem conglomerate Alrosa to Manicaland’s Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Mines Minister Winston Chitando this week announced Anjin had been given a fresh licence while Alrosa which provides almost 30% of global diamonds will begin operations in Chiadzwa soon.
“Anjin’s licence has nothing to do with who they are and what they have done before. We are also in the process of finalising discussions with Alrosa. They are coming and will be operating in Marange,” Chitando told State radio.
Asked if Anjin’s link to Zimbabwe’s military had influenced the decision to give the company a new licence, Chitando was evasive.
“We would then need to go deep into the shareholding structure of each company and that will not help. The fact is they will be mining our diamonds and there will be a board to oversee the operations of all companies involved in Marange,” the Mines Minister said.
Anjin is owned by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and a Chinese company with links to that country’s military.
Government two years ago, created the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and cancelled all licences that had been given to companies in the Chiadzwa diamond fields since 2006.
The move was challenged at the courts but Chitando argued ZCDC had legally been constituted and the Supreme Court had upheld its legality.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance(CNRG) research coordinator Tapuwa Nhachi in a statement also raised the red flag over the new arrangement.
“Alrosa a Russian partially state-owned diamond mining company which is the leader of the world diamond mining industry has entered Marange. Alrosa entry into Marange is shrouded in secrecy and this has been the same script that the Zimbabwe Government has used to identify investors for Marange diamonds,” said Nhachi.
According to Nhachi, the Russian company has the largest rough diamond reserves in the world and accounts for almost a third of global rough diamonds production, overseeing more than 29% of global diamond production in terms of carats and accounts for 95% of Russia’s overall production output.
Alrosa has sales offices located in the world’s major diamond trading centres of Antwerp, Ramat Gau, Dubai, Hong Kong, New York and London. However,
Chitando said the two companies will commence production end of this month adding Zimbabwe is targeting production of 10 million carats by the year 2023.”