Mines lose millions to rain

HARARE - Several Zimbabwean mining operations could be disrupted and lose millions due to incessant rains.

With the country’s meteorological services predicting that heavy rains would continue countrywide, gem miner Marange Resources (Marange) has said it lost nearly $5 million worth of diamonds, which were washed away by the rains pounding the country.

Marange told a local broadcaster that the floods derailed its mining operations for a fortnight in diamond-rich Chiadzwa fields.

Obed Dube, Marange’s chief executive, said the operations disruption resulted in a loss of 100 000 carats.

He added that rains also damaged infrastructure such as roads, bridges and equipment.

Lovemore Chimuka, a geologist and mining expert, told businessdaily that incessant rains affect mainly open cast mining activities.

“Incessant rains might cause flooding when you carry out open cast mining,” Chimuka said.

“In general the ore will be muddy making it difficult to process,” he said, adding that mines which are affected by flooding must develop compact drainage systems that will divert the run off of water.

“The disruption will have a negative effect on operations and profitability,” Chimuka said.

This comes as global miners BHP Billiton, Vale and Rio Tinto last year all posted sharp drops in quarterly iron ore production due to bad weather.

Smaller miners operating in Australia, including Fortescue Metals Group, Atlas Iron and BC Iron, also unveiled weather-related disruptions to production in the last quarter.

In Australia, heavy rain and two early-season cyclones drenched Rio Tinto and BHP iron ore pits early in the last quarter combined with high sea swells generated by Cyclone Lua.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean miners have raised concern over government’s legislation to give farmers the right of first refusal on minerals discovered on their land. - Business Writer

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