MAC: Mines and Communities

Zimbabwe miners shut down after diamond resource exhausted

Published by MAC on 2014-07-06
Source: (2014-07-05)

Black granite demonstators face criminal charges

The diamond fields of Marange in Zimbabwe became the world's largest producer of these precious stones in 2013 - contributing around 13% of global supply, according to

However, with two of the seven Marange mining companies closing down their production, it seems very likely that this year's output will fall dramatically.

This is despite the EU having lifted its embargo on Marange-sourced diamonds in 2013, although the United States continues to sanction them.

Chinese and Indian citizens are the world's largest diamond customers, and market demand has been slowly (if erratically) recovering since the credit meltdown of 2008.

If this modest "bull" market were to continue, Zimbabweans themselves may regret that they allowed the chaotic, sometimes bloody, and uncontrolled exploitation of one of the country's most precious assets to occur, thus robbing the country of future taxable incomes.

Whatever else characterised Marange, it certainly wasn't any concept of sustainability.

See also Burmese jade - a clear "conflict mineral"

Meanwhile, community members protesting against the inequitable distribution of benefits from Zimbabwean black granite production, have been arrested and charged with organising an illegal demonstation.

National justice and rights organisation, ZEAL, comments that the case "... shows connivance between the State and mining companies, with the State quick to protect the interests of mining companies that have been trampling upon the environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of communities in the natural resources sector".

Zimbabwe miners to shut down after diamond resource exhausted

Paul Zimnisky

2 July 2014

The Marange diamond deposit, spanning over 300 miles in Eastern Zimbabwe, was stated as the largest diamond mine in the world in 2013 producing almost 17 million carats or approximately 13% of global supply.

The diamond field is controlled by Zimbabwe government affiliate Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which has partnership agreements with 7 private entities most of which are speculated to have ties with Zimbabwe ex-military and political officials.

After only 5 years of alluvial diamond production, the easily-minable surface resource at Marange has been rapidly depleted. Beneath the easily-minable loose surface ore, the presence of diamonds continues, but lies in solid conglomerate rock. Mining of the conglomerate rock appears to be uneconomic as it was reported this week that two of the seven miners at Marange, Anjin and Jinan, will be shutting down due to resource exhaustion. On June 30th, Zimbabwe's SW Radio Africa, reported that the two companies will layoff 400 workers this week.

Anjin Investments Ltd is a private company joint owned by Matt Bronze Ltd, a company that is principally controlled by Zimbabwe senior ranking military official Charles Tarumbwa and Chinese-based Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group.

Jinan Mining Ltd is a privately-held Chinese-based company.

In September 2013 Belgian and diamond industry officials successfully lobbied the European Union to lift sanctions on Marange diamonds, which allowed for the diamonds to be legally sold in Antwerp, the global diamond hub, for the first time.

In March of this year, 380,000 carats Marange diamonds sold in Antwerp for $76 per carat. In February, 950,000 carats sold for an average price of $73/carat. Prior to lifting of sanctions, Marange diamonds were only selling for $33/carat primarily in China, India, and UAE.

The importation of Marange diamonds into the U.S. remains illegal due to on-going human right abuses and a history of civil violence tied to the diamonds.

The five remaining miners in Marange after Anjin and Jinan shutter will be Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame Respources, and Kusena Diamonds.

While its difficult to estimate Marange production for 2014, its likely that output will be significantly lower than the 16.9 million carats produced in 2013. In 2012 Marange produced 12 million carats; in 2011 8.7 million carats; in 2010 8.7 million carats; in 2009 800,000 carats; and in 2008 600,000 carats.

Today the largest diamond mine in the world is Botswana's Orapa mine estimated to produce 13 million carats this year. Orapa is jointly owned by De Beers and the government of Botswana.

Community members arrested for demonstrating against Black Granite mining company

Statement from Gilbert Makore, ZEAL

4 July 2014

A group of 52 rural community members in Mutoko North District and their traditional leaders were arrested yesterday (3rd July 2014) after demonstrating against Natural Stone Quarry Company and other black granite mining companies operating in the area.

The community was demonstrating against the inequitable distribution of benefits from mineral resources and failure by mining companies to perform any corporate social responsibility activities in the community.

The community members were charged with organizing an illegal gathering (in contravention of the Public Order and Security Act-POSA) and for blocking roads with s tones and holding placards. Some of the placards had the messages "we are tired of lies and unfulfilled promises, indigenize, empower and employ"- clearly resonating with the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.

The leaders of the group were detained and spent the whole night in police cells while others were asked to report to the police today (4th July 2014).

Natural Stone provided a truck to the police to transport the demonstrating community members to the police station at Mutoko Centre.

The Media and Communications Officer for the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) Darlington Muyambwa who had been requested by the community to cover the demonstration was also detained by the police for several hours and was being accused of sponsoring the demonstration. ZELA has engaged a lawyer to represent the communities.

There are more than 13 black granite mining companies operating in Mutoko with some having been extracting the mineral for more than 30 years. Black Granite or marble is used locally or exported for manufacturing floor tiles, tombstones, kitchen tops, pavers and decorating material for high rise buildings in many towns and cities around the world.

The community members were demanding that mining companies should make an attempt to carry out corporate social responsibility activities in the community given their negative environmental, economic and social footprint on the community.

Black granite mining activities in the area have resulted in damage of roads, heavy dust emissions, vibrations due to dynamite explosions leading to cracking of houses and school buildings, open pits that have claimed lives and loss of agricultural land for market gardening and sacred sites. Most of the infrastructure in the community is in a parlous state with limited educational facilities, poor and unreliable health services and a limited number of clean water points.

The case shows connivance between the State and mining companies, with the State quick to protect the interests of mining companies that have been trampling upon the environmental, economic, social and cultural rights of communities in the natural resources sector.

ZELA runs environmental justice and natural resources management rights educational and monitoring campaigns in Mutoko North District to promote and protect the rights of communities. The organisation is providing legal support to the group members who are facing criminal charges.

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