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Storm over diamonds

Storm over diamonds

Anjin Diamond Mine

Diamond producer, Anjin Investments, is in the eye of a storm as it is allegedly not selling its diamonds with the involvement of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) since it resumed operations in Marange last year, it has emerged.

MMCZ is Zimbabwe’s exclusive agent for selling and marketing of all minerals except gold.

Anjin is a joint venture between the Chinese military and their Zimbabwean counterparts and is back in Marange after it was asked to stop operation, alongside other producers, in the diamond-rich area in 2016 as the government was harvesting little from the gems.

The failure by Anjin to sell the gems through MMCZ has highlighted long-held fears that the diamond mining companies have been looting resources, depriving the country of meaningful revenue in the form of taxes and dividends in the case of firms jointly held by the government.

Well-placed sources told Business Times this week that there has been no transparency in the handling of diamond proceeds by Anjin, which is one of the diamond mining companies operating in Chiadzwa, a ward in Mutare District.

Most of the country’s diamonds revenues have reportedly been unaccounted for and leakages are said to be rampant, with individuals benefiting at the expense of the nation.

Critics say politicians deliberately allow the looting of diamonds because they personally benefit from the vice.

The suspicion was further heightened after a team of the Joint Operations Command (JOC) visited the miner’s operations together with Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company recently.

Concerns were also raised around the security of diamonds being mined by Anjin.

“Ever since it (Anjin) resumed operations, it has never sold any diamond through MMCZ and this has raised suspicion (that there could be some looting happening there) within the government,” one source said.

He added: “There is disharmony in the government on why Anjin has kept such a huge stockpile of diamonds without selling at a time when the government is in need of revenue.

The issue has been further worsened by the recent report by officials from JOC who visited the Anjin operations who were not satisfied by the security of diamonds at Anjin compared to ZCDC.

It is understood that JOC has since directed Anjin to copy what ZCDC has done in terms of improving their security systems.

This is not the first time that Anjin has been flagged for transparency deficit.

In 2016, former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa said Anjin had failed to produce audited accounts detailing its investment into the mine.

But Anjin general manager Shingi Manyeruke told Business Times the diamond mining company has been conducting its business operations above board and under the oversight of various State Agencies including MMCZ and ZIMRA.

Manyeruke, however, blamed the Covid-19 containment measures taken by various jurisdictions which have made travel difficult for international diamond buyers.

He said there were engagements currently taking place with the government through the MMCZ on how best to sell the diamonds given current business environment constraints.

“The diamond industry is a highly regulated industry. As such all key activities within the diamond value chain activities are done in accordance with both local and international regulations,” Manyeruke told Business Times.

“Anjin has at all times conducted its business operations above board and under the oversight of various State agencies mandated by the government to ensure adherence to set regulations.

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“Anjin’s monthly production returns are filed with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development without fail and on time since resumption of operations.

As for Anjin the situation was further worsened by the fact that the Covid—19 pandemic outbreak in the country occurred at a time the company had just resumed operations after having been out of the industry since 2016.

“With due respect the ‘suspicions’ and ‘outcry’ over the alleged impropriety in selling of Anjin diamonds are therefore without basis and rather out of malice by those behind the false narrative.

”It is also understood that Anjin is mining a concession that still has some outstanding legal issues between the government and Vast Resources, formerly African Consolidated Resources (ACR).

There are also allegations that Anjin got the most lucrative diamond claim (Portal B) in Marange from ZCDC.

ACR still holds a claim of ownership on the concession in question.ACR was persuaded to withdraw the case from the courts and was then promised another concession under a community agreement.

Manyeruke said Anjin was duly licensed by the government to operate in Portal B in terms of the new diamond mining policy adding that it was unfair to drag the diamond producers “into other issues that are purely outside the company’s remit”.

Diamond producers in Marange have in the past been accused of dribbling Treasury.

In 2016, former Finance minister Tendai Biti called the producers a “cabal of looters” for allegedly spiriting away billions from the gems while little was flowing to government’s coffers.

Business Times
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