Zimbabwe’s Minister of Mines has ordered all diamond producers operating in the diamond-rich Marange area to halt mining effectively immediately, after the government didn’t renew their licenses.
The firms are meant to leave behind equipment and vacate their premises and a newly created state-owned company, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Co., is expected to take over, The Independent reports.
The government’s decision follows a refusal by six mining companies, including Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Co., Jinan Mining Ltd., Kusena Diamonds, Marange Resources Ltd. and Mbada Diamonds to accept the nationalization of their assets.
Minister Walter Chidhakwa said private firms affected, which include Chinese and Russian firms, may negotiate joint ventures with the state mining company. He also said they had 90 days to vacate the area.
Most of the companies in Zimbabwe, one of the world’s top diamond-producing nations, concentrate on alluvial diamond mining, which requires less capital as they are easily extractable through open cast mining.
But the country has practically run out of alluvial gems deposits and existing local miners had argued they had neither the expertise nor the resources to search for new deposits underground.
Last year, Chidhakwa said the decision to merge all diamond miners aimed to bring more transparency and accountability in the sector. It is also supposed to enable small and medium-scale miners to extract kimberlite diamonds, which are capital intensive.