Minerals: Beyond what the eye can see


ZIMBABWE is endowed with some of the most valuable minerals in the world and is among the countries that constitute the avowed Persian Gulf of Minerals in Africa.
South Africa, Zambia, DRC and Namibia also have strategic minerals which include chrome, platinum, manganese and rare earth minerals.
Among these, Zimbabwe is the richest in terms of minerals per capita value of minerals in the world.
Zimbabwe and South Africa control 90 percent of the world’s platinum.
It is a rare mineral.
According to a report submitted by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)’s Working Group of Diamond Experts, an elitist committee, to the Kinshasa 2011 plenary, Marange holds 30 percent of the world’s diamonds and by far the most potent landscape in the world in terms of its mineralogy.
It is against this background that De Beers, a company found by Cecil John Rhodes, is fighting tooth and nail to remove the ZANU PF Government from power so that a sympathetic Government which will allow them to control the diamond reserves in Zimbabwe is installed.
In an interview with The Patriot, Zimbabwe Heritage Trust (ZHT) Chief Executive Officer, Cde Pritchard Zhou said Zimbabwe was the only country in Africa with diamonds that was not in partnership with De Beers.
“Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa which has diamonds, which has refused De Beers to operate,” he said.
“There are countries working against us because they want to control the largest reserve of diamonds and most of these Western countries would want to loot our diamonds for their benefit.”
Cde Zhou said for more than a century, De Beers had enjoyed the monopoly of being a sole trader, especially in Africa, enabling them to determine the price over a period of a century by simply controlling supply of diamonds on the market.
Thus, if the price went down, they would raise the price by withdrawing some of the diamonds from the market so as to create an artificial shortage and increase the supply only at a favourable price.
“De Beers now faces real possibility that its monopoly will come to an end very soon and when it happens, Zimbabwe will be able to determine the price by controlling or determining (the) supply of diamonds,” said Cde Zhou.
The frustrated, De Beers spent 15 years (1993-2006) prospecting in the Marange area, shipping more than 100 000 tonnes of ore to South Africa for ‘lab testing’.
Authorities say no results of these tests were submitted back to the Mines Ministry as required by law.
Surprisingly, De Beers claimed the diamonds were not of commercial value.
After the incident, Presidential Spokesperson George Charamba was quoted as saying:
“It is not a secret that alluvial diamonds are mined at the surface.
It is not like kimberlite.
Why should it take 15 years for such an experienced company to conclude that our diamonds are of no value to them?
But we cannot not take the issue further because we cannot establish how much of the diamonds have been taken.”
Farai Maguwu, a self-proclaimed human rights defender, produced a damning report about Marange soon after security agents started to move away 40 000 illegal panners in order to pave way for formal mining activities by ZMDC.
The report was headlined by many major news outlets in the world.
Immediately, KP suspended Zimbabwe’s membership.
A lengthy and laborious joint work plan was put in place in Swapkopmund, South Africa, to ‘sanitise’ the Marange diamond activities.
Some of the issues KP involved itself with at that time were outside its mandate.
Thus, ZMDC was placed under sanctions and could not sell its diamonds on the international market.
The sanctions were removed in 2013 with one of the strongest proponents of lifting the ZMDC sanctions being Belgium, a global diamond-trading hub.
Belgium’s gemstone industry had been weakened as a result of the sanctions.
Despite that, Zimbabwe continues to be the target of organisations such as Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) and Global Witness, who continue to engage in a smear campaign against Zimbabwe’s diamonds through continued publication of negative stories of Marange diamonds and the nation at large.
The EU, Apple, International Organisation for Migration/USAID and Global Affairs Canada are listed among the donors of PAC.
Global Witness, with offices in London and Washington DC, was involved in the condemnation of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.
Cde Zhou noted that the campaign by Australia and Canada against Marange diamonds specifically was because Marange diamonds were the largest reserve of alluvial diamonds which are cheaper to mine and therefore when sold, Zimbabwe makes more profit because of the less production costs.
“The campaign against Marange is economic since they fear competition from Marange diamonds,” he said.
“Meanwhile Australia and Canada are producers of the Kimberlite diamond, which means they spend more to extract them because they do shaft mining which is more expensive than alluvial mining which forces them to sell at a reasonably high price.”
Because of its rich deposits and most wanted minerals, said Cde Zhou, Zimbabwe would always be at loggerheads with the Western countries who solely depend on resources from Africa to enrich their countries.
“For platinum, we are number two after South Africa and companies that produce our platinum are mostly from South Africa,” he said.
“These include Unki, Mimosa and Zimplats among others but we know that South Africa is just a base since most of these companies are registered in London and the whiteman is eventually the beneficiary.”
It is against this background, said Cde Zhou, that Government had come up with a condition for platinum companies to build refineries in Zimbabwe in the next two years or Government would stop them from exporting minerals.
Cde Zhou said other minerals such as gold have always been the centre of attraction since the 16th Century when the Portuguese tried to colonise the Mutapa state.
“When gold was discovered in South Africa and the Boers from the Netherlands controlled the Transvaal gold, the British desired to go further to Mashonaland because there was a myth that to the North of South Africa was a country which had a lot of gold and there were numerous trips with people like Henry Hartley coming to establish whether it was true,” he said.
“It was proved there was a lot of gold, which explains why Rhodes came here to control the people of Mashonaland and rival what was being controlled by the Boers.”
Apart from the land, said Cde Zhou, the whites came to control the gold of Mashonaland.
According to William Harvey Brown, one of the pioneers, ‘they then went on a gold rush, taking mines from Zimbabwe’s ancestors who were already working those mines’.
To date, Zimbabwe still has the largest spread of gold in sub-Saharan Africa.
Asbestos, iron ore, methane gas and mutorolite, among others, are part of the rich endowment of Zimbabwe’s minerals.


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