Massive layoffs expected in Zimbabwe as diamond deposits run out

Massive layoffs expected in Zimbabwe as diamond deposits run out

Despite being the world's fourth-largest diamond miner, Zimbabwe is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Now things can only get worse.

Diamond mining firms operating in Zimbabwe’s Marange deposit are expected to cut around 400 jobs this week as it has become economically unviable for them to dig any deeper for the precious stones.

According to AllAfrica.com, Chinese firms Anjin and Jinan are among the miners that have already ceased operations and will be shutting down mines because Marange has run out of alluvial diamond deposits. These rocks are those close to the surface and so easily extractable through open cast mining.

The news doesn’t come as a surprise. Late last year the country’s Mines Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, acknowledged the issue and warned the existing miners had neither the expertise nor the resources to search for new deposits underground the country’s current major diamond source.

Massive layoffs expected in Zimbabwe as diamond deposits run out

Some experts believe that Marange is the largest diamond discovery in generations but the find has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses and corruption going right to the heart of Robert Mugabe's government. 

 

If more firms follow Anjin and Jinan’s steps, the southern African nation’s economy, which is counting on its diamonds to boost its weak economy, may never recover from the impact, experts believe.

The Marange fields, 400 km east of the capital Harare, have been a constant focus of controversy ever since 20,000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008, being violently removed later by soldiers and police.

They are controlled by the government’s affiliate Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which has partnership agreements with seven private entities, most of which are speculated to have ties with Zimbabwe ex-military and political officials.

The country, one of the world’s top diamond-producing nations, holds about 25% of the world's reserves of opencast extractable diamonds.

Image: Zimbabwe's diamonds miners, screenshot from VOAvideo.