Botswana Diamonds prepares to re-enter Zimbabwe
HARARE – Botswana Diamonds (BOD) says Zimbabwe is highly prospective and there are positive signs that the country is gradually opening for business.
In Zimbabwe, the company is preparing to re-enter the country to focus on both short-term production targets at Marange and advanced kimberlite pipe projects elsewhere in partnership with Vast Resources plc.
“Our final area of interest is Zimbabwe, a country ravaged by political and economic uncertainty, which we believe is now emerging as a location where overseas companies can invest. Zimbabwe has some interesting diamond geology and has seen little exploration in recent decades,” said John Teeling, chairman of BOD.
Approval is awaited for the granting to Vast of permitting to progress the various projects in Zimbabwe, in particular the Marange project.
BOD have long had a connection to Zimbabwe. It is prospective for diamonds, Teeling said, the Marange field was prolific, but recent years have been very difficult politically and economically.
“Diamond exploration has all but ceased. There have been recent signs of a limited revival. We would like to be part of the revival.”
Teeling said: “To that end we have an agreement with Vast Resources to assist them in relation to a possible licence in the Marange area. We have a 5% carried interest up to a certain expenditure.”
The company is looking at a project in an area known to contain kimberlite pipes. Teeling said it is early stage.
“The current law demands 51% local ownership. We have no issues with a joint venture as long as there is sufficient financial incentive for Botswana Diamonds.”
Zimbabwe’s history of diamond exploration and mining had all but vanished during the many years of economic isolation under President Robert Mugabe’s political regime. Following Mugabe’s downfall, investors’ appetite to invest in the country has been rising on the strength of the new government’s favourable stance to foreign investment.
Recent amendments to the country’s mining law have reaffirmed the new government’s intention to further open the country to foreign investment. The controversial indigenisation policy which had caused concern among foreign mining firms has been amended.