THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is behind schedule in commissioning a 450-tonne per hour conglomerate processing plant due to foreign currency shortages, NewsDay has learnt.
Speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Mining Investment Conference on Wednesday in Harare, ZCDC chief executive officer Morris Mpofu said they were using stop-gap measures in the meantime.
“This plant that we are going to commission soon on the conglomerate plant which can do 450 tonnes per hour is a game changer in diamond production for ZCDC. As it is now, we are behind schedule for commissioning because of shortages of foreign exchange and we are using some stop-gap measures to produce the conglomerate and the results are very exciting for what we are doing now,” he said.
“…because for the first two months we are over 200 000 carats of production that we achieved even without commissioning the new plant.”
He said they needed at least $200 million in extra capital to spruce their operations.
Currently, the company has been capitalised by the government to the tune of $80 million and had not used at least 60% of that amount.
Initially, ZCDC had said the plant would be commissioned before the end of March.
As part of plant design optimisation, comprehensive metallurgical rock crushability tests were carried out on all mining concessions.
“These tests are an important part of diamond value management as they minimise the damage of diamonds during recovery which affects the value of rough diamonds. The results will also enhance further understanding of the depositional environment and potential source of the diamonds,” ZCDC said.
In the second quarter of 2017, the ZCDC board approved an investment of $15 million into a conglomerate processing plant to be installed at Portals A and B out of the seven portals where diamonds are located nationwide.
ZCDC is expected to open three mines at portals D, C and R by year end to complement the current production being done at Chiadzwa and Chimanimani.
Mpofu said the company’s five-year strategy ending 2022 would ensure that those three mines on top of the current ones would allow them to generate up to 10 million carats of the minerals per annum.
“The 10 million carat target that we have is based on existing operations and wrapping up production and business growth on existing work not on the unexplored areas. What we have now is the potential to get to the 10 million,” he said
Mpofu said diamond players were aware there were vast sources of diamonds as some had done preliminary evaluations, geological work and exploration.
“We know the potential that is there. What is needed is the capital which foreign investors at this conference have which we need to take advantage of in terms of exploration because we are looking for kimberlite,” he said.