ZIM’s Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa confirmed Wednesday that police have been deployed to six diamond mining firms amid reports that there were alleged looting and theft at the mines after the abrupt cessation of operation.
“Our police forces are in place, deployed on each and every one of the mines,” Chidhakwa told reporters after touring the diamond-rich Marange region.
He added that the diamond miners’ security personnel have been disbanded and mine workers sent home.
But neither Chidhakwa nor the national police spokesperson Charity Charamba commented on the issue. The size of the police deployed to the scene is also unknown.
The government on Monday ordered six diamond mining companies to immediately stop operations in the country’s Marange region because their licenses have expired and they have 90 days to vacate and remove their equipment and valuables.
The decision came after the companies rejected the government’s proposal to merge their operations and to let the state hold a 50 percent stake in the merged entity.
The minister said the door for re-negotiation is closed and a state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company that holds all the diamond reserves in the country had been created.
One of the affected firms Diamond Mining Company (DMC) said it planned to sue the Zimbabwean government for breach of contract by seizing concessions.
The government said it wanted to consolidate the mines to improve transparency in diamond revenue and under-investment by the foreign partners.
But the better performing diamond firms in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields complained that they were not keen on taking over the liabilities of their indebted peers.
Zimbabwe is one of the top diamond producers in the world. However, due to the dwindling alluvial diamond deposit, the country’s diamond output plunged from the zenith of 12 million carats in 2012 to 3.3 million in 2015, causing a sharp decline in revenues and contraction of mining sector in the country last year. – ANA