De Beers and Vast Resources will be allowed to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe. This will make them the first listed companies to mine in that particular sector in Zimbabwe for two years, according to Mining Minister Winston Chitando.
However, a spokesman for De Beers reportedly denied the claim, stating that it did not have any intentions of proceeding with the same. On the other hand, Vast Resources declined to make any comments.
This comes shortly after Zimbabwe’s move to rebuild investor confidence since long-term leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in late 2017. Earlier on this month, the country’s mining ministry said it would let in two new companies but failed to name them.
According to media reports, Vast Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana Diamonds in May. The MOU would serve to form a special purpose vehicle majority-owned by Vast to develop resources in Zimbabwe.
Last month, Chitando said Zimbabwe did not plan to change radically its ownership laws for platinum and diamonds. Meanwhile, few miners doubt the potential of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources as it is among the world’s leading diamond-producing countries. Be that as it may, some investors are concerned about how much money companies can take out on account of dollar shortages.
Former President Mugabe had accused De Beers of looting the largest diamond fields in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is one of two firms currently allowed to mine diamonds there. The other, Murowa Diamonds, is the only private company mining diamonds in south central Zimbabwe.
As part of its quest to attract foreign investment, Zimbabwe’s new government has liberalized indigenisation laws for many minerals. However, it still limits foreign ownership of platinum and diamond projects to a minority, with the state holding 51%.