Bulawayo24 – Gillian Sithole, mine manager at Mbada Diamonds, one of the firms mining in the area, said government has discovered a further 53 000 hectares of diamond deposits.
“There are now 120 000 hectares, if you add the existing 67 000 hectares discovered earlier, but exploration is still underway to ascertain the true value.”
“Further findings are possible as exploration continues,” said Sithole, whose firm is a 50-50 joint venture between government and foreign partner Grandwell Investments.
He was addressing reporters on a tour of the area, about 400 km east of the Country.
Marange is often touted as one of the biggest diamond finds in recent history with a potential to contribute 25 percent of global supply of the stones.
Mbada and Chinese-run Anjin Investments are the biggest players in Marange, both mining on just over 12 000 hectares.
Anjin chief engineer Hu Shijie said the firm, which has close ties with the military, has started selling a stockpile of 3 million carats after getting the green light from global diamond trade regulator, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
He said Anjin is targeting between seven to 10 million carats in 2012.
The KPCS is a consensus industry, government and civil society body aimed at stopping the flow of diamonds mined in conflict areas or used to fund conflict.
Controversy still surrounds operations in Marange, even though the KPCS recently allowed most firms mining there to export diamonds after a lengthy stand-off led by Western countries that wanted a 2009 embargo to remain citing human rights abuses.
Private firms have secured their own security, but police and soldiers long accused of human rights abuses against illegal miners by civil society members, KPCS and Western countries still “guard” areas that are yet to be allocated to commercial miners.
The United States, a key member of the KPCS, has just added Mbada on its travel and financial sanctions list of companies and individuals said to be aiding the regime commit human rights abuses and electoral theft.
Another firm, Marange Resources, a government entity in joint venture with all firms mining in Marange except Anjin, is also on the list.
Last month, Global Witness, a civil society KPCS member pulled out of the body.
It said the KPCS had failed “to stop diamonds fuelling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe”.
But Zimbabwe is buoyed by interest from emerging giants China and India.
Government has recently stepped up efforts to open offices in other major diamond markets, the European Union and Dubai.