Reports have emerged from Zimbabwe that the government has ordered diamond mining firms to cease operations immediately, according to The Heraldnewspaper.
Eight out of the nine companies who run firms in joint operation with government, have allegedly been told to leave the Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe as their licenses have expired, but the government denies having seized the mines.
The government’s move follows months of wrangling over its attempt to merge the mines into one new entity through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). That organization will now hold all the claims to the mine, but mines minister Walter Chidhakwa has denied that the state is nationalizing the mines, according to newzimbabe.com.
Chidhakwa said that the government was not expropriating the firms or their equipment, merely the concessions that belong to the state. He also gave the firms a 90-day period in which to remove their equipment, and said that they required governmental approval before accessing the mines.
This government decision comes at a delicate time for both Zimbabwe’s diamond industry and its economy in general, with investors reluctant to put money into the country.
“We have created a very unstable and threatening investment environment, no matter which sector you invest in Zimbabwe, you’ll be interfered with,” said economic consultant John Robertson.
According to the Kimberley Process, Zimbabwe was the eighth largest diamond producer in 2014, with 4.7 million carats.