The state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is set to increase its output this year after a slump in 2019 due to power outages.
Mine manager Innocent Guvakuva said last year the company failed to move eight million tonnes to the processing centre due to incessant power cuts and fuel shortages.
“We lost close to eight million tonnes of ore that we could have moved for processing, but due to erratic power cuts and fuel shortages it was not possible,” he said.
“Our machines can move 2 500 tonnes a day, but last year they spent most of the time idle. We have the equipment but there were other challenges that ensured that these machines were not working,” Guvakuva told journalists during a tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields last week.
ZCDC production tumbled to 1,6 million carats from 2,8 million due to myriad economic challenges, chief among them power cuts and fuel shortages.
To achieve their target, Guvakuva said, they have installed a 450 tonnes per hour plant and they were now on phase three where carat production is expected to increase.
“Our focus now is on the optimisation of the plant to make sure power is there whether from the grid or generators. Once we increase liberisation of diamonds the carat production goes up,” he said, adding, “by end of three months, phase three should be commissioned.”
Guvakuva told journalists that under phase three, a 5G X-ray band machine used under world best practices will be installed to assist in diamond recovery.
Guvakuva said they are also investing in solar plants to complement power from the grid.
“Plans are there to set up a power plant. We are working on a feasibility study. We have also advertised and a consultant has been engaged in line with corporate governance systems,” said Guvakuva, adding that for full production there is need for a hybrid system which comprises of both solar and power from national grid.
ZCDC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Roberto De Preto also confirmed they had plans to install a solar farm to boost power.
He added that they were targeting about 3.2 million carats this year through procurement of two mobile crushing and recovery plants.
“The new crushers would increase capacity to about 650 tonnes per hour,” said De Preto.
In the absence of electricity, ZCDC consumes over 4 000 litres of diesel a day.