Zimbabwe orders diamond mines shut, says not nationalising – by MacDonald Dzirutwe (Reuters Africa – February 22, 2016)

http://af.reuters.com/

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe ordered diamond mining firms to stop operations immediately on Monday and leave the Marange fields as their licences have expired but denied the government was seizing the mines.

The diamond fields in the east of Zimbabwe near Mozambique are mined by nine firms. Eight, including two Chinese-run companies, are joint ventures 50 percent owned by the government and the other one is wholly owned by the state.

“The JV companies neglected or failed to renew the special (mining) grants. Some expired as far back as 2010 and others in 2013,” Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa told reporters and executives from the mines in question.

“Since they no longer hold any titles, these companies were notified this morning to cease all mining activities with immediate effect,” he said, adding that Harare’s position was final and not negotiable.

Monday’s move follows months of wrangling between the mining companies and the government over its plans to merge the mines into one new entity to ensure efficiency and transparency, a proposal opposed by some of the firms.

Chidhakwa said the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) will now hold all the diamond claims in the country, but said the state was not nationalising the mines.

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