Marange to double production

HARARE - Diamond producer Marange Resources (Marange) plans to ramp up its production by two-fold next year as international demand for the precious mineral continues to soar.

The company — 100 percent owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) — said it has grown its production from a mere 10 tonnes per hour dense medium separation plant capacity to the current 115 tonnes within two years.

Obed Dube, Marange chief executive, said the company now has the capacity to boost production after acquiring state-of-the-art diamond recovery equipment.

He refused to disclose the amount invested.

“Our intention at the moment is to more than double our current production by 2013,” Dube told businessdaily in an interview without elaborating the quantity in carats.

But, Marange chairperson Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube has been quoted in the media saying the company is currently producing an average 100 000 carats per month.

“When I took over as the chairperson in March 2012, we were producing an average 47 000 carats per month, but the figure has more than doubled and we are now producing 100 000 carats monthly. The focus has since changed and we are now targeting producing 200 000 carats per month by December,” Tshinga Dube said.

The new technology — known as the X-Ray Transmography (XRT) — is similar to that used by major diamond-producing nations such as Russia, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It costs an estimated $250 000.

The XRT enables diamond sorters to separate rubble from mined diamonds during the grading process.

Marange is currently mining both alluvial and conglomerate diamonds in Chiadzwa. The alluvial mining is expected to continue through to 2014 by which time the open pit mining for conglomerate will have been finalised. Ultimately, it is envisaged to develop into an underground mine.

Obed Dube said trade restriction measures imposed on the company by the United States of America and European Union are affecting production of the precious resource.

“Our diamonds are not getting their real value on the market due to sanctions imposed on the company. We are forced to sell the mineral at low prices to third parties who then make a killing to quality customers who are refused to buy directly from us,” he said.

The chief executive believes that the supply of diamonds is running out in the long-term so the coming in of Zimbabwean gems is good for the industry.

According to market experts Zimbabwe has the potential to contribute more than 30 percent of the world’s diamonds.

“The diamond industry in Zimbabwe is a new baby that has a huge future,” said Dube.

“We have only been mining the minerals for the past few years and we still don’t know what we are sitting on. A lot of exploration is needed to determine how large our fields are.” -
John Kachembere

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