London-listed mining firm, Vast Resources is optimistic that it will be re-admitted into the Marange diamond fields through a long-overdue partnership with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
An initial investigation supported by the Information for Development Trust (IDT) — a non-profit making organisation examining bad governance — indicated that the government had shelved the deal.
The British investor partnered with Chiadzwa Community Company (CCC) formerly known as Chiadzwa Mineral Resources (CMR) to form Katanga Mining which was expected to have sealed the deal with ZCDC not later than October 18 2019.
However, it has emerged the government had subsequently put the deal on hold.
Russia’s Alrosa and Chinese’s Anjin Investment — whose investments were announced more or less the same period as Vast —were long given the green light.
This has raised questions about the new dispensation’s sincerity in engaging British investors.
Vast Resources chief executive officer Andrew Prelea said engagements with ZCDC and the Mines ministry were ongoing. He said:
As we are a publicly listed company, I’m not at liberty to make comment that is not in the public domain.
We can say that we have maintained dialogue with both the ZCDC and the ministry of Mines and still wish to work in Zimbabwe.
The Group is using its subsidiary — Botswana Diamonds to financially support and offset Katanga’s operational expenses.
Botswana Diamonds indicated that to date, the Group incurred expenditure of £58 815 (US$77 961) on exploring for new licenses in Zimbabwe (which is yet to be granted) and £11 203 miscellaneous costs.
Previously, Vast disposed of its gold mining venture – Pickstone-Peereless Gold Mining Company (Pvt) Ltd — after it accrued a US$40 million debt.
A Commodity Outlook 2022 report by the Chamber of Mines released in February, indicates that:
- 1). the government is banking only on ZCDC, RioZim, Alrosa and Anjin to boost its diamond output to five million carats this year from 4.2 million carats last year.
- 2). suggests that the British firm could be out of the government’s medium to long term plans.
Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) executive director, Farai Maguwu, criticised President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration for frustrating potential investors with the capacity to complement efforts to meet or surpass its 2022 diamond annual targets.
He further that the deal is not sailing through mainly because the interests of the ruling elite have not been secured adding that if Vast “pay the corruption fees to the right people, the deal will be fast-tracked.”
More: The Standard