Production plummets at last Zim diamond mine
Murowa Diamonds—Zimbabwe’s sole operating diamond miner—recorded a 40% drop in production in 2007, owing to frequent power failures and machine breakdowns, the company said.
Murowa is 78% owned by London-based mining firm Rio Tinto.
“Murowa recorded a reduction to 145 000 carats for the year compared to 240 000 carats in 2006,” RioZim chairperson Eric Kahari said in a statement to shareholders.
“Besides the anticipated decrease in grade with depth and the delay in the implementation of the expansion project, production was adversely affected by Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) power outages and contractor mining-fleet breakdowns due to lack of spares.”
Kahari said arrangements were made to purchase power directly from Hydro Cabora Bassa, in Mozambique, through Zesa and in foreign currency.
“The company has also put in place measures to resolve the supply of other critical items such as oxygen,” he said.
Kahari said the company’s exploration was also hampered by a flight of skilled workers.
“An application has been made to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to pay critical skills in foreign currency, if successful this will greatly affect the group’s ability to retain skills.”
According to a study carried out by the Chamber of Mines, there are now 1 116 vacancies for professional and technical staff following the departure of workers, mainly to neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Mozambique.
Zimbabwe’s mines, which produce gold, palladium, chrome, platinum and diamonds among other minerals, earned the country $849-million, up from $702-million in 2006, according to central bank figures.
Mining industry earnings have now overtaken agriculture as the major foreign currency earner, accounting for about 4% of the country’s gross domestic product. - AFP.