UK firm Vast allowed to mine Chiadzwa diamonds, but gem policy still fuzzy

ZCDC site at Chiadzwa: the company's newly released annual reports fall short on transparency

London-listed miner Vast Resources will be allowed to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe, Mining Minister Winston Chitando says. 

There has been speculation over the future of Vast’s involvement in Chiadzwa after government left the company out when it announced Russian giant Alrosa, state firm ZCDC, Chinese jount venture Anjin and RioZim as the only companies to mine gems under a new diamond policy. 

“In principle it is agreed,” Chitando told Reuters, referring to Vast Resources being allowed the right to mine the diamond fields.

Under the new diamond policy, only four companies are to mine diamonds, and any other entity with title would have to forge joint ventures with the other four. This has raised confusion as to what would happen to Vast Resources. 

While the law, if strictly applied, would force Vast to partner the other companies, there’s no sign of such plans from Vast.

In a statement released to the London Stock Exchange after Chitando’s remarks, Vast said it was “pleased to announce that the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust has in principle been granted the right to mine diamonds in joint venture on the Heritage Concession (Block T1A of the Marange Diamond Fields) and has appointed Vast as its joint venture partner in the exploration and mining of diamonds in the area.”

Vast added that it was “aware that the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust is associated with the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust, the community trust named in the Company’s original announcement on the Heritage Concession of 22 August 2018”. 

Last May, Vast signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana Diamonds  to form a special purpose vehicle to develop resources in Zimbabwe. Vast went on to sign a deal with Red Mercury, a company run by the Marange-Zimunya Trust, granting Vast access to the 15 km² Heritage concession. 

Vast CEO Andrew Prelea visiting community leaders in Marange, 2018

In September, Vast raised £863,750 through a subscription, part of which will be used for due diligence at the Marange Diamond Fields.

The company already runs Pickstone, a gold mine near Chegutu, and holds a 23.75 percent indirect interest in Eureka, the mothballed Guruve gold mine that is currently being brought back to production.